After a successful Day 1 at my first LMA Annual Conference, I was ready to close out Day 2 with a bang. What better way than to kick off the day with an incredible GC panel. Moderated by Richard Caruso, vice president and general manager of Legal Media at ALM Media, LLC, the panel “An Inside View: General Counsel Perspectives on the Use of Alternative Legal Service Providers and Artificial Intelligence” was both powerful and insightful. The discussion of ALSP’s is more important now than ever. Legal work is going in-house and GC’s warn us that we have to change in order to keep up. Mark Smolik, chief legal and compliance officer at DHL Supply Chain Americas, said it boldly “I can’t afford to pay you $800 an hour.” So what are we legal marketers to do? We must assist our firms in implementing the change that corporations are looking for. What is that, you ask? Focus on being a business partner first, rather than just being their lawyer. The legal industry is changing so law firms need to find ways to change as well. Stay relevant.
Alexia Maas, senior vice president and general counsel at Volvo Financial Services, said it best “We need snappy, relevant advice.” We heard consistently throughout this panel law firms need to be entrepreneurial in our approach. Embracing the disruptors and working together to identify solutions for our clients. We cannot act like we own the client and we need our lawyers to really get to know their clients at the operational level. Put down the legal speak! What drives this home? The GC’s aren’t the only top executives involved in major buying decisions – it’s also the Chief Financial Officers. And who has been working with the CFO’s for years? The Big Four. Companies are looking for firms that can engage deeply with both GC’s and CFO’s.
Technology for in-house lawyers has increased options to meet their internal and external support needs. William Barnette, associate general counsel at The Home Depot, told us “Budget certainty and reducing costs is critical for us. Flat fee portfolio programs have helped us bring our costs down. We’ve invested in technology to in-source e-discovery.” So how do we compete with technology? Know the industry and know the client really, really well. Once we start providing value on the business side, law firms will be able to anticipate what’s around the corner and will be how we differentiate ourselves from the ALSP’s. I walked away from the GC panel fired up. This was direct insight on how we can be more successful with our clients and how we can facilitate these relationships with our lawyers. And to think, that was only the morning of Day 2.
After a quick networking break, breakout sessions were underway. My first breakout session of the day was the “5 Essentials for Becoming a High-Powered Digital Marketing Organization.” Andrew Foote, executive vice president and managing director at Edelman Digital, and Joseph Hammond, co-founder and chief executive officer at Producify, led an important discussion on how law firms have historically lagged in digital marketing. They provided us with five important steps to developing an effective, focused, digital content strategy. Strategy is essential to decide what not to do- there’s too many things we could do, so we need to set goals, strategies, and objectives. Know what to measure and how to measure it. Build an effective content strategy, make your video central to your strategy and reach the right audience. In a tech-focused era, these are crucial and its high-time law firms stop lagging behind when it comes to digital marketing.
“Business Development Insights and Best Practices from the Big Four” was a fun breakout session. Tom Lutz, national managing director of sales at Deloitte Services, was brutally honest about what we need to do to drive revenue growth through effective business development (BD) training. The phrase that stuck to me was “You’re teaching a language of business development, this is not a one-time training. Frequency is key.” Lutz made it clear, BD training needs to happen right out of school and with new laterals. This will help with client-facing teams. Deloitte invests in programs, time and, money to ensure their professionals are constantly working on building that “BD language.” The more they do it, the easier it is to speak and interact with a client, ensuring they are satisfied with services rendered and thus, driving revenue.
My final breakout session “Leveraging LinkedIn’s Navigator to Scale Business Development,” merged my two favorite topics, technology and business development, and how can we use both to work smarter, not harder. It was helpful to learn more about the product itself given how LinkedIn has changed the landscape with respect to law firms using social media as a way to reach their clients. Navigator gives you the ability to be more in-depth in your prospecting and provides insights to build and nurture meaningful business relationships. Panelists from Beveridge & Diamond, White and Case, and Littler Mendelson gave their stories of how they adopted the platform and achieved lawyer buy-in and usage. The future is endless with technology and Navigator gives firms advanced lead and company search capabilities to find the right people and companies with a very targeted and unique search experience. With options like CRM integration, we can now leverage technology to make effective and efficient business development strategies.
That’s a wrap on two days of jam-packed programming. I was so excited to bring back all that I learned to my firm and I am eager to put some initiatives and tools in motion! One thing is for certain, the programming is incredible and you will leave invigorated and ready to attack serious marketing and business development goals. The networking and connections I made from my time at the 2019 LMA Annual Conference were incredible. Everyone I met wanted to keep in touch long after the conference ended and I left with more mentors, sounding boards, and resources than ever. I am excited to attend my next conference, to keep learning, and keep connecting with this amazing community.
In my final article, I will provide tips and tricks to help make your LMA Annual conference a huge success.
Angie G. Litan, MS
Business Development and Marketing Manager