How Law Firms Can Better Support Lawyers In their Revenue Generation Efforts
In our previous post, we had introduced the concept of a RevOps framework as a way to innovate and transform client acquisition and retention processes within law firms.
This post discusses the design and implementation of the Enablement function, a key piece of the transformed function.
It is widely known that client acquisition and retention processes in law firms are overly dependent on fee-earners. Suggestions by consultants and attempts by law firms to hire account managers have not gained traction. So, in our discussions, we assume that lawyers expect to and will continue to lead the complete process from strategy to execution on all client-facing activities for the foreseeable future.
What are the resulting challenges and how can these be addressed?
1. Lawyers do not receive any formal training in selling or the business of law in law school. This means that the burden of getting lawyers ramped up in client acquisition and retention methods falls on the firm.
2. Lawyers are expected to bill 1200-1800 hours annually. This leaves little time, and even less mental space, for them to consider what their next effort to acquire new files should be.
3. In the corporate world, people self-select to be in sales. At law firms, success is tied to becoming a partner and all partners are expected to build and maintain a book of business (i.e. sell).
“As a lawyer, I just wanted to do law and not be responsible for business development, hence I exited private practice” – Mining Lawyer, Top Bay street firm
So, what’s the solution? A 2018 market wide study by Ackert Advisory found that Business Development training and coaching was the most effective strategy for improving client acquisition and revenue generation outcomes. However, this study also found that frequency and format of training varied widely and, unfortunately, there is no metric on which training format has the best results.
The current state of “business development and marketing” training in law firms has a long way to go and in working with law firms, we have found the following challenges with current training programs:
- Format: Lessons taught in in-class sessions or lunch and learn webinars are forgotten within a few hours or a few days of training.
- Frequency: Related to the above, one-off annual sessions or even quarterly sessions are insufficient and ineffective
- Practicality: Training is usually not insights–driven, industry focused, or company specific, and therefore not easily actionable
- Collaboration: Most training, and particularly 1:1 coaching sessions, do not address the joint efforts and partnering aspects of client acquisition. Whereas, many surveys have shown that client loyalty is much higher when they’re interacting with lawyers across the firm and multiple practice areas.
In summary, training and coaching should not be a specific event that lawyers attend and get back to offering legal services.
As part of the transition to a RevOps framework, we suggest Enablement as a core support function that incorporates ongoing, insights-driven, and collaboration-focused training and coaching, backed up by effective processes and guides that help build a culture of client development. Lawyers will learn best if they are called to take action on their training and coaching right away. Consider what practice in the context of client acquisition and revenue generation would look like.
To help align the various internal teams and engage lawyers in selling more confidently, here are a few recommended revenue generation enablement processes:
- Regular review of processes to remove non-value-added work for lawyers and support them with insights and services that help improve client interaction.
- Facilitated quarterly industry workshops that promote a collaborative cross-practice approach to sector campaigns.
- An Industry Insights platform, such as Kaitongo, that provides content to help drive collaboration conversations.
- Readily available online training modules and videos.
To fully support lawyers in their revenue generation efforts, firms will need to look to adopt new technology and software to make training and enablement available in an online, always-available format. Our platform, Kaitongo, provides content with actionable insights, that would be one way for lawyers to receive a daily dose of training.