Shattering the standard.

Author:Lilley, Tricia M.
Position:Cover story

Best-in-class legal marketing initiatives are dispelling the stereotype that law firms are not on par with other professional services firms. Law firms today face mounting pressure to generate new business--pressures that, according to joint research conducted by Bloomberg Law and the Legal Marketing Association (LMA), are coming from all directions. This includes internal firm pressures (68 percent); corporate counsel reducing the number of firms with which they will work (46 percent); the marketing success of competitors (43 percent); and rising client pressures (41 percent).

To combat these pressures, legal marketers are stepping up their game in all areas, from business development to client service to traditional communications. This was reflected in the submissions for this year's LMA Your Honor Awards, which recognize best-in-class legal marketing initiatives from around the globe. This year, as always, the winners embody trends--some nascent, some classic--that are at play in the industry.

Feedback from judges and the evaluation process points to a few key ways firms are responding to market pressures:

* Focusing on the next generation of decision-makers, both internal and external

* Leveraging data and technology for differentiation and implementation of informed, educated focused marketing strategies

* Emplying economical, pragmatic approaches that forego unnecessary bells and whistles to focus instead on personal engagement

And one overarching theme consistently voiced by judges is that legal marketing as a profession has truly come into its own.

"I was very impressed by the level of sophistication evident in all of the submissions," said judge Mark Smalls, vice president and chief marketing officer at JAMS, the world's largest private provider of arbitration and mediation services.

"Some of the most highly rated entries were from small firms with either minimal staff or sole marketers," Smalls added. "Even in firms where there was not an in-house marketing function, the partners became engaged and they knew how to identify consultants able to execute cutting-edge work."

Holly Barocio, judge and principal consultant at GrowthPlay, pointed to how "laser-focused" objectives seemed to be, with detailed ROI and ROE metrics tied back to them.

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