The role of marketing and business development has become critically important in today’s legal environment — and that doesn’t mean talking about designing logos or law firm brochures. Today’s law firm marketing professional or marketing partner embraces a wide-spanning role within a firm, focusing on everything from how to drive a firm’s revenue, how to more effectively pitch clients and how to deal with technological developments that will radically transform the legal industry much sooner than expected.
These and other issues will take center stage at the 24th Annual Marketing Partner Forum, presented by Thomson Reuters’ Legal Executive Institute. The conference, which runs from January 25-27, will be held at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
Forum attendees should expect to come away from the Forum full of ideas which they can put into practice upon returning to work. “You should walk out of workshops with material task lists, to-dos and strategy statements that you can bring back to your firm,” says Beth Marie Cuzzone, Director of Client Service and Business Development for Goulston & Storrs PC, and an event co-chair. “If your job is to determine the direction of your firm’s marketing strategy, the Marketing Partner Forum is a good place to go.”
The Forum’s keynote speaker is Dr. Heidi Gardner, Ph.D., a Distinguished Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession. Talking about “Barriers to Collaboration: On the Myths and Realities of Rainmakers,” Gardner will examine how firms can quantify and qualify the seemingly magical success of their “rainmaker” lawyers.
Also speaking is Gabriel Teninbaum, Professor of Legal Writing at Suffolk University Law School. Addressing “Legal Marketing in the Age of Intelligent Machines,” Teninbaum will explain to attendees how the advent of artificial intelligence could affect the legal industry, and how law firms can use such technology to remain profitable. “His information and data has been well received in the market,” says Silvia Coulter, Principal at LawVision Group LLC and a Forum co-chair. “It’s a good opportunity for attendees to find out what trends he’s been seeing, and how they’re going to impact law firms.”
Over the three days of breakout session, panels and workshops, attendees will get to directly engage with clients to get a better sense of their concerns. In the Pricing Negotiation Master Class session, for example, attendees engage in mock negotiation exercises with clients. Another intriguing breakout session is “Examining Legal Marketing Compensation in the AmLaw 200,” which examines the counter-trends of firms growing marketing budgets while still keeping marketing personnel compensation flat.
Several popular sessions from previous years’ Forums will return. For example, Coulter and Steven Petrie, chief strategy officer at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, will unveil the results of the 2017 Annual Marketing Partner Forum Survey. The survey will “show what’s up and what’s down in law practices, what the marketing and business development trends are for firms, in response to what’s going on in the market,” Coulter says.
Also returning is the Forum’s “perfect pitch” workshop, in which law firm sales professionals and practicing lawyers pitch to in-house counsel. In this exercise “the audience can learn the pros and cons of having two different voices at the sales meeting,” Cuzzone says. “This session will show the benefit of having people who understand the sales process, who can overcome objections, and who understand how to identify client needs and present solutions for them. It’s going to be a game changer for some attendees.”