06 November 2017 at 06:50 BST

It's not business as usual when selling law firm services

With legal departments now competing for work with their erstwhile external advisors, the game has changed and law firms have to take a long hard look at their wares, says Terralex executive director Terri Pepper Gavulic.

Hedzun Vasy

Traditional lawyers are being replaced by artificial intelligence, contract lawyers and non-law firm entities, which, in turn, is making a major impact on the role of marketers and business development professionals, says Terralex executive director Terri Pepper Gavulic. On top of this, the law firm – client relationship is changing with clients increasingly "taking away legal work they’d have otherwise assigned to an outside firm and either doing it themselves or finding more cost-effective options," she says, adding that groups such as the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) are changing the landscape on these relationships.  Ms Pepper Gavulic was speaking in the run-up to the second Law Firm Marketing Summit in London on 7 November. 

New perspective

The changes mean marketers must have a new perspective on how to sell these other ways to provide services. "If involved in pricing, they cannot be priced on an hourly model – it has to be value-based pricing. Also, marketing and BD professionals must help their firms extract client feedback to keep up with the changes (client interviews, surveys, etc.)," Ms Pepper Gavulic says. Building a better relationships with law firm partners is key for executives and understanding how to manage the relationship is the first step. 'There has to be more give than take,' she adds. 'For instance, if marketers take too much of a lawyer’s time ('fill out this form', 'attend this meeting') without giving more value (we’ve identified this opportunity for you to speak to 50 prospects in your industry area), then lawyers will tune out. Marketers must also understand and offer the client’s perspective and must understand the lawyer’s practice."

Not business as usual

There are lessons law firms need to learn when approaching GCs and selling legal services. "It’s not business as usual and firms must take a long hard look at how they offer and charge for services. Instead of rewarding time spent, GCs are more interested in rewarding value and cost efficiencies delivered. This is counter to most firm’s billing and compensation practices, so change is required," she added.


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