What is changing in legal marketing?

AuthorScalzi, Jennifer Johnson


We sit in a unique position to see what is happening in this industry. Importantly, we see what is coming up months--and even years--in advance, and part of what we do is advising our clients and candidates accordingly. Lately, this industry has seen a few changes. Here are some we think you should watch.

Outsourcing: Lowering Costs at What Expense?

In recent years, the mainstream and legal industry media have provided extensive coverage of the trend in larger law firms to consolidate and relocate their operational units to lower cost markets. At times, these units have moved to markets outside of their office footprint. The driving factor is that the new location must have substantially lower cost of living for employees. The strategy is similar to outsourcing, where areas of a business are removed and contracted out to a (usually) cheaper third party. The key difference here is that the internal team is retained, but the cost base is reduced through relocation. This internal outsourcing is a relatively novel approach for law firms and certainly a new paradigm for legal marketing and business development professionals.

The prospect of lowering operational costs is attractive to law firm management teams and, by extension, to clients. But in the case of legal marketing and business development, are moves such as this penny smart and pound foolish? There are three major reasons the efficiencies lost and effectiveness diminished as a result of outsourcing for legal marketing and business development professionals should be taken into account, making this trend worthy of closer examination.

In our industry, client service is key for our lawyers. In turn, our lawyers expect the highest levels of service from those that they employ. Marketing and business development professionals have to be visible and accessible. How else do they meet the critical partner-facing demands of their roles? It is, therefore, questionable whether marketing and business development professionals whose primary goal is to service the firm's lawyers can perform their role efficiently and effectively from a remote site.

Second, the business of business development planning is highly personal and personalized. The ability to walk down the hall and knock on a door of a lawyer at any given time is essential. Removing this ability will inevitably create unsatisfied customers. While cheaper, no conference call or video feed can replace the one-on-one...

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