Takeaways from the LMANE New York Program on “A Tale of Two CRM Systems”

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Despite being a long-standing staple in the arsenal of legal marketing technology, most law firms have only scratched the surface when it comes to leveraging the power of CRM systems as an integral component of the marketing strategy. But that’s beginning to change. 

On July 19, the New York local group of the LMA Northeast Region, hosted a panel discussion of two success stories—firms that implemented CRM systems, and then going beyond organizing contacts and managing events, actually utilized CRM to provide business intelligence and business development tools to their lawyers and marketing teams. 

Chris Fritsch, Founder and CRM Success Consultant at CLIENTSFirst Consulting, led the discussion with panelists Kenya Jiu, Marketing Manager at Kobre & Kim LLP; and Shawn Koupal, Head of Marketing and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling LLP. They shared their experiences leading the implementation of CRM systems at their respective firms. As Chris noted at the outset, the firms not only went with different systems (OnePlace and InterAction respectively), but are using them in very different, yet very successful ways. 

Some of the takeaways from the panelists included: 

  • CRM is more about people and process than technology. It’s important to educate lawyers about the importance of contact management and how it can benefit them. Younger attorneys in particular often don’t save their contacts at all.
  • Understand who your users will be and how they want to use CRM. For example, at Kobre & Kim, more than 95% of attorneys are using the system to access information, including high usage of the mobile app. At Shearman, it’s mainly the business development team using CRM to do research and run reports for their lawyers.
  • Use CRM to understand all the touchpoints and people involved in bringing in new business. Firms can better determine their return on investment and also give credit to all those contributing to business development.
  • When attorneys request certain information or tools, ask why. You want to make sure they really want and will use the information and don’t already have access to it elsewhere.
  • Incorporate Enterprise Relationship Management (ERM). A CRM may tell you who knows someone, but not the strength of the relationship, which is a key component of business intelligence. ERM software can look at the frequency of interactions between parties in order to provide insights into relationships. 

Ultimately each firm is unique, so the most important step in a successful CRM implementation is understanding your firm’s distinctive needs and objectives. Remember that law firms can take diverse paths but still achieve comparable success. 

Edie Reinhardt, Principal of RDT Content Marketing, specializes in helping law firms use content marketing to distinguish their brand and grow their business. She previously practiced law and was a publisher at ALM Media.

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