I am always proud to be included in Dave Billinsky's legal industry predictions for the New Year. His Thoughtful Law Blog is read by anyone who wants to improve the way they manage and run law firms and legal practices. Here is my submission as we look ahead to 2017 - with links to Dave's blog so you can read others' points of view in Parts 1, 2 and 3.
In 2017, I predict that experience databases will finally get the due they deserve as a vital cultural and integration tool in law firm mergers.
As mergers and combinations of all sizes continue to fuel law firm growth, effectively capturing what’s in the brains of your top lawyers becomes even more mission-critical. For these combinations to be successful and profitable as early as possible, what lawyers have done and for whom must easily be discovered and extracted – and then put to great use: building trust, demonstrating relevant expertise and selling new work.
The most committed and aggressive firms have a mandate around experience collection and organization that starts with their firm chairs and executive committees. We have learned that top-down engagements have greater success than bottom-up.
100 percent of law firms want to manage this better. The firms that do it well give access to the lawyers – with a link to the experience database on their intranets, access to reporting features, even the ability to enter in details about a new matter. And lawyers who are serious about wanting to win more are accountable to keep their matter records current. Relevant, at-your-fingertips experience is critical to winning more practice-defining, or I should say, career-defining work.
In the very best systems (judged by the amount, quality, and relevance of data), lawyers are involved in the data-capture process in one way or another. To win more, this cannot be a marketing department “initiative” – it must have full support of and engagement by lawyers in the firm. And it must have active support from the firm’s C-suite or it won’t get done.
Trust doesn’t automatically transfer from one firm to another as soon as merger documents are inked. It gets a proven boost, however, when lawyers can instantly investigate the experience of their new colleagues, 24/7 and regardless of time zone. This is a sure-fire way for key lawyers around the globe to trust the strength and qualifications of each new lateral, and for each one to feel embedded and valued in your firm.
Deborah McMurray is founder and CEO of Content Pilot LLC, a strategy, design, content and technology company. Clients include the largest law firms in the world, as well as national, regional and powerful local firms. A former law firm CMO, Deborah and her team specialize in award-winning design of websites, proposal centers and experience databases, and important strategic initiatives, such as content strategy design and positioning/branding campaigns. In 2008, she was inducted into the Legal Marketing Association’s Hall of Fame and in 2007, was elected as a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management. In December 2013, she was named as one of National Law Journal’s “2013 Top 50 Legal Business Trailblazers & Pioneers.”
The American Bar Association Law Practice Management section is publishing her 4th book where she is co-author: Lawyer’s Guide to Marketing on the Internet, 4th ed. – due out early 2017. Read her Law Firm 4.0 Blog and follow her on Twitter at @ContentPilot.