I recently returned from Atlanta where I attended and spoke at the 2019 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference, which is the annual industry gathering for legal marketing and business development professionals.

If your experience was like mine, you gained many new insights that you’re excited to implement at your firm, you made new valuable connections, reignited existing relationships, participated in online conversations at #LMA19 and spent time in the exhibit hall talking to service providers about their products and technologies.

I always try to attend the sessions that will enable me to obtain insights into what clients need and want, as well as anything that will help me gain an advantage over competitors, and with that in mind, I’d like to share a few key takeaways and insights from my LMA19 experience. This year, one of the major highlights for me was the general counsel panel. The speakers had so much to share and what they said was eye opening.

Here are some key takeaways from my latest JD Supra article on “What Clients Want and Need Today From Law Firms – Key Takeaways from the 2019 LMA Annual Conference.” Read the full article for much more from #LMA19. 

  • Competition is everywhere, especially beyond the traditional law firm model. A law firm’s competitors are no longer limited to another law firm. Alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) are changing the way business is conducted in the legal industry and Big Four accounting firms are moving into legal. This enlarged playing field will drive law firms – both large and small – to be more open to change and “disruption,” and find new and innovative ways to provide greater value to clients.
  • Get to know the CFO because they now hold the power. The CFO has never been more involved in key decisions than he/she is now.  The in-house counsel panelists said that law firms need to quickly become more comfortable talking directly to chief financial officers and other key decision makers on the business side at their clients.
  • You must have a fundamental understanding of the operational side of your clients’ businesses in order to truly comprehend their needs. Ask the right questions, conduct an in-depth diligence process – do whatever you need to immerse yourself in your clients – it will make you a better advisor to them.
  • Take a client-focused approach to the way in which you staff and bill matters. Firms need to be more proactive in offering alternative fee arrangements, fixed-fee retainer agreements, staffing and make innovative pricing models the norm. Also, there’s lots of opportunity for small- and mid-size firms due to their pricing flexibility and ability to more easilyadapt to change.
  • Go the extra mile during the pitch process. The firm that took it upon itself to provide a two-page analysis of a case, including an analysis of the judge, opposing counsel, a proposed strategy and budget is the one that got the business and stood out from its competitors.
  • Think less like a lawyer and more like a business person/entrepreneur. Your clients want business advice to balance risk against the law, so their outside counsel needs to act like a business adviser and an entrepreneur.
  • Good content should always be written in non-legalese terms. Remember, many of your clients are not lawyers. Don’t write for lawyers at other firms.
  • There is no substitution for in-person, on-site client visits. Make sure that you have enough quality time with your key clients and referral sources during the year.
  • Immerse yourself in your clients. Learn their businesses inside and out. You’ll learn their pain points and the areas where they need the most help. You’ll then be able to devise solutions to effectively advise them.
  • Always make your clients look good inside and outside their organization. If you make them shine, they will call on you again and again.

Read the full article with lots more takeaways and tips.