Mid-2017 Law firm trends

Here’s an interesting article sharing 10 trends identified by CMOs from mid-sized regional firms.

If you’re working in such a firm, ask yourself whether you are observing these or other trends and how you might respond to them.

If you’re working at a different kind of firm, ask those questions as well as how you might compete against the “mid-sized regional firms” on the basis of these trends.

The most important of these 10 trends, I believe, is: 

  1. Relationships Are Still the Key to Success: In a flat market, the CMO’s agree that moving lawyers away from awareness and credibility activities and toward relationship-oriented activities is paramount.

Does that mean you’re off the hook for writing, speaking, and the like? Of course not. However, if you need to develop business in the short-term (as opposed to having less time pressure), you will see much better results from speaking with potential clients and your network of allies (those who will refer business to you and introduce you to potential clients, as well as opening other doors for you).

How do the trends identified in this article affect you and your business development activity?

Does social media lead to business?

Does social media activity really lead to new business? This question comes up quite frequently, along with its cousin, Why am I not seeing ANY results from my social media activity? Social media too often becomes a time-consuming, illusory activity that seems to promise results are just around the bend.

But some lawyers have cracked the code. I recently ran across an article titled The Social Law Firm Index 2016: Is Your Firm a Social Law Firm? which has some good tips based on a social media survey of the AmLaw 100. (If your firm is nowhere near the 100, don’t worry: the tips apply regardless of the size or type of firm.)

The whole article is worth reading, but let’s focus on the first “best practice”:

By remaining true to their primary business objectives and core brand messaging, social law firms are most effective at extending their reach and engaging with their target audience.
This sentence identifies four core aspects of effective social media use, each of which is implicated in any kind of successful business development activity:

  • Primary business objectives: You must have a business development strategy in place and a plan to execute it. Like any other activity, social media must fit within that strategy.

  • Core brand messaging: Having a clear brand-based message is important in any business development activity, but it’s critical in crowded social media communities. Otherwise, even if your “thought leadership” and educational efforts (two of the other identified best practices) hit their mark, your audience likely won’t remember what firm offered such helpful information.

  • Extending their reach: Effective social media activity is a way to appear in front of new people on a regular basis. Knowing whom you want to reach and what kind of content will catch the right attention is the heart of your business development strategy, and social media is one of the vehicles to use to make that happen. 
  • Engaging with their target audience: Social media is social, an opportunity to connect and engage with other users. It is not effective when used as a megaphone. Regardless of the particular platform that you’re using, your plan needs to include a way to identify individuals strategically and to connect with them in a way that moves an online relationship into offline conversation.

There’s a lot more to this article (much of it more granular that the report’s initial point), so please do read it if social media use is any part of your marketing plan. If you aren’t getting the results you want, you will likely be able to self-diagnose what’s missing.

When you plan to “try”

When confronted with a new, daunting challenge, many of us have a tendency to say we’ll try.

In the business development context, that might show up as, “Oh, I hate networking, but I know I need to meet new people, so I’m going to try attending the monthly entrepreneur’s meetup.” Or “I know I need to be easier to find online, so I’m going to try to publish a few articles this year.” Or “It’s been a couple years since I looked at my business development plan, so I’m going to do that and try to get it updated this month.” Or… Well, you get the picture.

Here’s the truth about saying, “I’ll try”:


Sometimes “I’ll try” does mean “I plan to make a legitimate and strategic effort to accomplish this goal.” If that’s what you mean, leave out “try” and just say you plan to do it. Of course there’s a risk of failure—there’s always a risk of failure—but leaving out the fuzzy word “try” may help to minimize that risk.

I urge an honest and pragmatic approach to business development. So if you aren’t fully committed to undertaking an action (and by fully committed, I mean intending to take planned, strategic, and consistent action), don’t kid yourself. You don’t have to do everything—in fact, you can’t do everything—so acknowledge what you can and can’t do (or will and won’t do) and leave “trying” on the sidelines.

Make the most of your summer (or vacation season)

Vacation season (whether for the summer or winter holidays) brings fun and challenges. Do it right and you can enjoy and refresh yourself while maintaining your progress toward your goals. Fail to approach it thoughtfully, and you probably won’t like the outcome.

This week I’m sharing several greatest hits from the past with tips to help you make the most of your summer, whether you’re about to be in the full swing of it or whether it’s still six months away in your part of the world. (And, of course, these tips apply for any kind of vacation as well as no vacation at all.) Click on the links below to read the full articles.

  1. Increase your efficiency by cutting the time you spend in the office:  This post shares three tips about how you can shift your approach to work so you can get more done and get out the door.
  2. The Reset Button:  Two tips to help you feel less pressured, which in turn will increase your efficiency and effectiveness.
  3. Addressing Burnout:  Your Productivity Depends on It:  How can disconnecting from your work improve your productivity?
  4. Get Out of the Office:  Your best thoughts about work probably won’t happen at work.
  5. The Productive Value of Vacation:  How short bursts of recreation can refresh and reinvigorate you.
  6. How Your Holidays Can Help Your Grow Your Practice“Your future is created by what you do today.” This article covers how to continue forward motion while enjoying your vacation season.
  7. Mix Work and Play for Fun & ProfitThis article covers the neglected art of gracefully shifting a social contact into a business conversation—without being that tone-deaf boor who’s always selling him- or herself.