Three reasons why your business development efforts aren’t working

Three reasons why your business development efforts aren’t working

By Richard Tromans

What should be the overarching aim of any law firm business development (BD) team? The immediate response has to be: to help increase the revenues and profits of the law firm. The problem is, beyond this point there can be a lot of uncertainty. How do you know you are helping to win the right work, from the right clients, in the right geographical locations, for the right practice areas, at the right prices, using the right resources? In short, how do you make sure your BD effort is really moving the firm closer to where it wants to get to?

The question is further complicated by the increasing number of channels that BD can operate across. One could fill a page listing every possible BD activity, from collecting client feedback, to designing pitches, to developing thought leadership projects, to creating an entire new suite of blogs, twitter feeds and partner videos, and much more besides. In fact, the scale and complexity of BD in a modern law firm means it can be a challenge for even the most rigorous BD head to keep track, or always be sure that what is sent out has the right message.

When in doubt the litmus test for any BD work should be: does it align with the firm’s strategic plan? Or put another way, do the messages you are sending to the market make it more likely your firm will fulfil its strategic goals?

Your website may not be a work of art and your firm brochures may not be Nobel Prize-winning material, but if what you are producing is closely aligned with your firm’s strategic plan then it is far more valuable than the BD of a rival firm that has not aligned its output, no matter how glossy their “product” may appear. Of course, achieving strategic BD alignment is easier said than done. In fact, success here has many obstacles. Let us consider some of those challenges below.

Strategy? What strategy?

The first reason aligning BD with strategy sometimes fails is that the firm does not actually have a strategy. You might, (or perhaps might not…), be surprised by how many law firms don’t really have one. In other cases a firm does have a detailed strategy, but it is sitting in a desk drawer in the managing partner’s office gathering dust and

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About the author:

Richard helps law firms with important strategic decisions. He advises on areas such as merger, practice development and geographical expansion. He also provides assistance to law firms in relation to organisational and operational issues.

Richard has spent over 16 years working in the legal sector focused on the UK and global legal markets. He previously worked at Jomati as a strategy consultant and authored the Jomati Report series between 2009 and 2014.

Prior to that, Richard worked at US-based, Hildebrandt International, and also held senior, legal sector editorial roles in London and Paris.