LMA New York: Beyond Big Law: Learning from Other Industries

by Rosemarie Yu

Law firms have created a unique type of business with their business model, partnership structure and ethical rules. But there’s still a lot the legal industry can learn from other industries.

Some of that insight from other industries was shared by a panel of professional marketers at LMA Metro New York’s Jan. 26 luncheon, “Beyond Big Law: Learning from Other Industries,” hosted by Mayer Brown LLP.

The panelists, Anita Carr Shapiro, president of the Practising Law Institute, Vincent D’Eramo, sales executive at Deloitte, and Sallilyn Schwartz, global head of investor relations and communications at Moody’s Corporation offered their perspectives on how law firms could do business. 

Client surveys were raised as an excellent way to get a pulse on client satisfaction. But law firms have to “be willing to hear feedback whether it fits your hypothesis or not,” said Moody’s Ms. Schwartz. And take it a step further by actually acting on the feedback, within reason, that is.

PLI’s Ms. Shapiro is equally a big fan of acting on client feedback. “I stop people in the hallway and ask them how it’s going. If they say ‘not so good’ I want to hear about it.” Feedback comes in many forms at the Practising Law Institute. Each PLI program has a survey. Membership services will do on-site visits with clients to learn what they want from PLI. Employees are encouraged to offer suggestions, which are always taken seriously.

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Deloitte will even make a point to go to clients that have not selected them. “We’ll ask them where we fell short – was it pricing, strategy? It’s very helpful knowing where we can improve,” said Mr. D’Eramo. This information can then be shared within the practice, which helps in refining the offering for similar opportunities. Interestingly, while Deloitte continues to work with new clients in different areas, the company finds it very important to continue growing the relationship with existing clients. It’s a “cross-functional effort to best support that client however we can.”

All three panelists use robust CRM systems to capture this and other valuable information. And to keep people disciplined about keeping their info current on the system, “put upkeep of the database as part of their performance review – tie it to their bonus,” suggested Ms. Schwartz. 


Rosemarie Yu is Principal of Yu Communications, a New York-based communications consultancy specializing in professional services. She can be reached at ryu@rosemarieyu.com.

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