Transition Tips: Don’t Leave Your Lawyers in a Lurch

By Sarah Abreu and Lisa Rory, business development managers at Venable LLP


Turnover is inevitable in legal marketing, but setting up your lawyers for success through transitions will help you to leave good relationships in your wake and possibly help you land future jobs. Having a strategic and clear business development transition plan will enable lawyers to rely on themselves – no matter who is advising them.

  • Keep matter lists up-to-date. We don’t need a fancy tool to do this – we only need access to Word or Excel. Advise your attorneys to regularly enter notes about each matter, who assisted, what was involved, and what was interesting or unique about the engagement. Remember to include dates and outcomes, and just like that, you have an accurate record of your matters. No one should rely on memory. Everyone is busy, and that RFP from two years ago may not include all that should be recalled. Keeping a record of matters makes it as easy as attaching a document to a succession memo or emailing it to the new marketing person and forgetting about it.
  • Automate client touch points. Outlook is our friend! Encourage attorneys to set calendar appointments to compose and send out emails to eight to10 important contacts on a regular basis or to use the time check in on clients and prospects. And be sure that the appointment is recurring. Clients and prospects need to hear from their attorneys on a regular basis, to ensure they are more likely to engage your lawyer when the next issue arises. You can even set delayed distribution on emails to go out at a later date/time. Remember to build in time to find an article, or relevant client alerts to attach to emails if they have not had time to write one already.
  • Speaking of writing, encourage lawyers to do it often. Writing six client alerts in a year is easy to check off the list. Automate that too. And then refer to our first point – keep a record of it, so your lawyers can use it later. Remind them that the web team will attach it to their biography automatically, but make sure that older articles are stored away somewhere, since bios should be a “what have I done lately” kind of snapshot.
  • Remind attorneys to keep a record of their business plan and to set reminders to revisit it quarterly. Business plans should be constantly evolving as clients grow and change. Also, a reminder of goals at the start of the year will ensure that everyone stays on track to reach goals. Attorneys and BD professionals should be sitting down together to discuss these business plans – turnover or not. Having a second set of eyes will ensure that the plan is in top condition and will yield the best results for the business.  
  • Know the BD spend. This one can get a little tricky, but knowing roughly what will need to be approved in terms of yearly sponsorships, memberships, and travel will make it easy to say “yes” to one-off requests that are sure to arise. It will also help set a precedent for BD initiatives that are important and will leave room for trying new things each year that may yield unexpected positive returns.

BD professionals need to add value wherever possible and creating great BD habits is a lasting way to do just that. These tips will help to ensure success in the face of any staffing gap. And the best part is, it is never too late to start, so start today!

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