7 ways technology is disrupting bizdev in the legal industry

The Brief
You can’t make it through a corporate blog post today without reading about how they’re “disrupting the industry.” Technology is the banner disruptors fly as they storm markets and business models. To date, the legal industry has largely ignored technological innovation, certainly as a means to market services and generate leads.

We spoke to four experts in the field of legal business development

  1. Anna Stevens, director of marketing for Gaslowitz Frankel LLC; @EQforSuccess
  2. Guy Alvarez, founder and chief engagement officer for Good2bsocial; @guylaw1313 
  3. Harry Alba, director of marketing and sales for the American Law Institute; @harryalba
  4. Ron Friedmann, a consultant for Fireman and Company; @ronfriedmann

to get their take on the disruptive opportunities law firms must seize if they want to maximize their bizdev potential.

1. Understanding buyer persona. “There’s no such thing as B2B or B2C anymore,” says Anna Stevens. “It’s all H2H—human to human.” Business development depends upon knowing the persona of your buyer—who they are, where they live, their pain points and demographic information—so you can speak directly to them through your outreach. Other industries have been utilizing huge swaths of data to understand their human targets. It’s time law did so, too.

2. Proactive visibility. No matter how much money firms sink into shiny websites, it’s for nothing, says Stevens, unless they understand and utilize search engine analytics and algorithms like Google Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird to maximize visibility. “If you’re not staying proactively visible,” says Stevens, “you’re invisible.”

3. Mobility. Your website MUST be mobile-friendly. Period.

“If you’re not staying proactively visible,”  says Stevens, “you’re invisible.”   Tweet Quote 
4. Lead generation. “More and more,” says Harry Alba, “you’re seeing firms say ‘Everybody in the firm has potential to do business development,’ and they’re nurturing that and training that [in young associates].” But associates and partners need the tools to be able to generate leads, and that’s where customer relationship management (CRM) platforms come into play for identifying prospects. Law firms have to embrace this technology to continue growing.

5. Social business practices. Guy Alvarez agrees with Alba but also acknowledges a new type of CRM in company intranets, “Social technologies present both an opportunity and a problem for lawyers. You can use it to generate business, develop press relationships, etc.” Nearly all Fortune 1000 companies—which make up the bulk of many law firms’ clientele—use these technologies internally to enhance collaboration and communication with employees and customers. Guy wants to know when law firms will use these technologies to enhance how they communicate and work with clients.

“Everybody in the firm has potential to do business development, but associates and partners need the tools to be able to generate leads,”  Harry Alba, American Law Institute  Tweet Quote
6. Relationship mapping. Unless you understand how your network of partners, associates, staff and clients works, you’re powerless to leverage those relationships for new business. “Partners are requesting more and more business research,” says Ron Friedmann. This leads to a lot of duplicate work and wasted money. Firms should be using tools that automate relationship discovery and management at least in the early stages, before pursuing individual leads.

7. Self-tracking. Finally, unless you’re tracking all your marketing and biz dev initiatives, you won’t know how to improve your campaigns. “Firms aren’t measuring their marketing success effectively,” says Friedmann. “They don’t check sales funnels. They don’t check conversions. There’s plenty of tech for that.” In other words, law firm, know thyself.

The Takeaway: A law firm is a business. If firms want to grow their business and remain competitive, it’s time to take a page from other industries that long ago embraced mobile platforms, analytics, algorithms, SEO, CRM and social technology.


RelSci helps create competitive advantage for organizations through a crucial yet vastly underutilized asset: relationship capital with influential decision makers.

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