As law firms face heavier competition for a shrinking piece of the legal demand pie, many are turning to legal technology tools as one way of differentiating themselves to clients in a sea of similarly situated law firms.
The question becomes then, how best to use this technology and tools to demonstrate to clients that yours is the better firm?
The answer will certainly be a point of discussion at the upcoming 14th Annual Legal Sales and Services Organization (LSSO) conference on May 9-10 in Dallas.
“It’s especially critical now to focus on how best to grow the client relationship and the impact of declining demand,” says Janet Bennett, National Manager for Thomson Reuters’ Monitor Suite. “Some firms are reacting positively to these changes, others are not experiencing these trends so drastically, and still others are struggling with what to do.”
At the LSSO conference, the Thomson Reuters Legal Business Development team is leading a pre-conference session on the morning of May 9 that will highlight the fundamental elements of finding growth in a flat market. The conference will feature additional panels to discuss how to determine the future of the legal market, how to leverage tools and processes for cross-selling opportunities, and how to manage legal sale culture.
“These panels give lawyers a chance to hear concerns expressed by GCs, and see what thoughts go into the hiring process,” Bennett says, adding that most general counsel are remarkably consistent with what they want from their outside law firms. “GCs want law firms to know them, know their business, and come in as a partner.”
Like with everything, however, she said, some firms do this well now, and some firms continue to struggle with the idea. Bennett explains that you can usually tell whether a lawyer “gets it” in a client meeting. “Is he telling everyone about himself and his firm and not asking about the client’s needs? If so, he’s not recognizing the need for a deeper understanding of the client.”
And access to the right research help with this deeper understanding, and it can also can be an important determining factor in a client’s hiring decision, Bennett adds. “If you go into a meeting with some prime research to offer the client — perhaps info on competitors, trending industry statistics, or any data that brings more value to the meeting — then you are well ahead in differentiating yourself in that client’s eyes.”
Of course, there are many research platforms out there, and law firms need to identify which ones would best meet their needs, and more importantly, which ones will provide opportunities to meet clients’ needs.
Ask yourself, does this technology:
- Provide in-depth financial data — Some key information should include data on private equity, corporate lending, merger and acquisitions, new business information and cross-selling activities.
- Provide information in an easily-digestible format — Enhanced information and company financial data should be presented in a manner that is easily digested and could be acted upon. Technology that displays the data in a format that saves legal professionals’ time (and allows them to better prepare for the next client meeting) is a clear benefit.
- Create a business dashboard — The ability to combine legal information with company information, while filtering data into a highly graphical interface, helps provide a broader perspective of the business. This also allows a firm to identify trends and opportunities early and assess the value versus complexity of those opportunities.
- Shed light on big-picture client financials — Financial practices, private equity investments and M&A activity viewed in combination with litigation and intellectual property insights can provide a holistic view through which attorneys and law firms can better understand their competitors and potential (or existing) clients.