It’s time to refocus as a team.
At my firm, we have initiated a market segment team approach. Other firms may refer to these teams as “industries.” The goal is the same – to bring together a team of attorneys focused around the client, the client’s needs, and how the client or prospective client makes purchasing decisions.
In part, our transition from “practice groups” to “market segment teams” is about speaking the clients’ language. Most industries don’t make that distinction, or even use the term, “practice,” in the way law firms do. It might seem less relatable or misaligned, where “industry” or “market segment” makes sense.
This doesn’t mean we’ve done away with “practices” altogether; after all, we are still a law firm! However, for us, “practices” is a way to internally manage the firm. In essence, the practice chair manages the business internally – the workload, billing and other financial decisions, new/departing attorneys, etc. – and the team chair manages the client-facing approach – the website and marketing material, new areas of opportunity and strategy, etc. – with the help of myself and the rest of the marketing team, of course.
Each team is made up of a group of attorneys who offer value to clients within a particular industry or of a certain profile. For example, the real estate team is made up not only of real estate attorneys, but also includes attorneys who specialize in energy and environmental, tax, bankruptcy, and other areas of law that impact real estate developers, owners, investors and entities for a full-service approach.
Too often, lawyers become siloed in their specific area of practice, but this approach breaks down practice group barriers. Collaborating with others outside of the practice group silo, helps educate them on what their colleagues do and what types of issues other clients of the firm are experiencing. Whether consciously or unconsciously, that exposure and knowledge enables them to cross-sell – and ultimately better serve their own clients by anticipating future needs and providing direct access to the firm’s multitude of resources.
Studies show that the most influential factor in a buying decision is a referral from another lawyer or colleague in the industry. So, a team approach, where members from a practice group, and peripheral practices, are in constant collaboration, sharing ideas and knowledge – and in the know for when these cross-marketing opportunities arise – will carry weight in most purchasing decisions.
Team members should interact on a regular and consistent schedule, the same way that practice groups do. Each member must also be committed to deepening the relationships they have with their clients, prospective clients and referral sources. For this to work, attorneys must really understand their clients’ goals, challenges and concerns beyond just the services they offer.
Clients will embrace the team. They’ll feel important to the firm when the firm commits many resources to them. So, focus on the long game, and don’t be discouraged about small missteps as your attorneys learn to work together. Begin with the expectation that changes will need to be made along the way. Accept the failures as lessons learned, and continue the evolution!
By Ashley Smith, Marketing Coordinator, Gordon Feinblatt LLC