eTip #37

Legal Matters

Law firms are good at handling legal issues. But when it comes to marketing, law firms can overlook the importance of a disciplined and measurable approach which can really matter and make all the difference. For this eTip, you will get some sound advice from Debra Baker, Esq. of Legal Vertical Strategies.

BMC: What is your experience in legal marketing and how did you get started?

Baker: I am a principal and chair of the Law Firm Services group of Legal Vertical Strategies, a marketing and business development consultancy. My experience includes serving as the firm wide Director of Marketing at Heller Ehrman and head of marketing for a leading e-discovery company. I began my career as a journalist. I covered the justice system for a daily newspaper during the day and attended law school at night. Licensed to practice law in Illinois and a former senior writer for the ABA Journal, I became interested in the business side of the law while covering law practice management during the dot-com-era.

BMC: What are some of the challenges you see law firms face when it comes to marketing?

Baker: The number one challenge I see is a lack of a disciplined, measured approach.

BMC: Name 6 steps law firms should take in order to head in the right direction with their marketing efforts?

Baker:1) Identify what success looks like at the onset of any marketing initiative and measure it at the end.
2) Start with existing clients. They are your best source of future business and your greatest referral source.
3) Be realistic about what the firm can and cannot accomplish. Marketing requires an investment in resources and attorney times. Start small and build on a successful foundation.
4) Commit to a vision and a plan. See it through and then adjust.
5) Internal communication is key. Communicate goals, the rationale and the results in a consistent, ongoing way. Then do it again.
6) Measure your results.

BMC: What are the 3 most common mistakes law firms make when it comes to marketing?

Baker: 1) Conducting random acts of marketing.
2) Marketing in (practice group or attorney) silos.
3) Failing to integrate marketing into the firm’s overall strategic plan.

BMC: Last words of wisdom on marketing for law firms.

Baker: Law firms have a great opportunity to differentiate themselves on value and efficiency. If you have not yet given consideration to how to integrate knowledge management, information technology and client service into your overall business development strategy, start now.

As a Principal with Legal Vertical Strategies, Debra Baker, Esq., helps providers of legal services and products drive revenue through the execution of client-focused business strategies. With more than 20 years experience working across the legal vertical, Debra incorporates a disciplined, cross-organizational approach to help clients grow their business. Her experience includes senior level marketing positions for both a Global 100 law firm and a leading e-discovery company. An award-winning legal journalist, she covered law practice management and ethics for the ABA Journal. She recently launched the new blog, LawFirmTransitions.


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