18 Feb 2021

'Too many lists and brochures' - law firms urged to reset relationship between lawyers and BD teams

Video Q&A hears call for leaders to recognise and accommodate the complexity of the sales process

Law firms must reset the relationship between their lawyers and business development professionals if they are to make full use of the BD talent they have in their ranks, a Global Legal Post video Q&A interview has heard.

While firms now recognise the importance of attracting top quality BD executives, there remains a tension between lawyers, who are being urged to develop their own practices, and BD teams, whose roles are not being clearly defined and are still being asked to produce “too many lists and too many brochures”, consultants Katie Dignan and Stephen Revell warned.

The video was recorded to preview a key topic of a three-day interactive online strategic management course to be hosted next month by The Global Legal Post in association with Lexington Consultants: Preparing your law firm for success in the post-pandemic era. Dignan and Revell will be teaching the course, along with other former law firm leaders and specialist consultants.

Revell, a former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner and author of Business Development: A Practical Handbook for Lawyers, said: “Law firms have realised they need to attract better-quality people… but they’re not using them properly and therefore the business development professionals are frustrated. I do think a reset is needed to actually make better use of the talent that many law firms have.”

He said building client relationships was a complex exercise that required lawyers and their business development teams to work in tandem, especially as many lawyers were uncomfortable with the ‘selling’ aspect of their roles, even as they were being encouraged to build their practices. 

Dignan, who advises professional services businesses on their sales and business development strategies, added that there was a need for honesty between lawyers and business development executives about what was expected of them, a factor that was also crucial to hiring and retaining talented individuals.

She also warned against falling into the trap of relying too much on technology as it would only work if it supported existing processes and behaviours.

“Technology can help enormously; but it is important to recognise that it is not a panacea; it is very much a tool that has to be put into a system that is already working,” she said. “So you are not going to install a new CRM system and dramatically improve your business development hits.”

To watch the video, click here

Preparing your law firm for success in the post-pandemic era will run on the first three Fridays in March. For more details click here for further information and here to download the programme. Or email jeanlhomme@globallegalpost.com.