Recent events have put remote work at the forefront. And remote work applies to legal business development in ways that might have a transformative and positive impact on how law firms can win new business. Reducing costs, honing focus, and putting an end to some traditional legal business development activities that are no longer necessary in an internet-age – are all possible for any legal practice.
Indeed, the topic of conducting legal business development during the coronavirus pandemic has been the subject of much discussion, including this recent article by Andrea Stimmel in Law.com — and this IBA webinar – featuring a panel of experts.
Remote legal business development really began when the internet came into being
I would suggest that the sea-change in legal business development came when internet communication became predominant in business activities — and that the pandemic has simply highlighted — in dramatic fashion – how much business development activity can in fact be conducted remotely.
This unique time in history glaringly highlights what is – and is not – necessary — in terms of legal business development – including in-person events, in-person networking of all kinds (golf, conferences), and other in-person meetings including pitch meetings.
Legal business development is not primarily about networking
This unique time in history demonstrates the essence of what legal business development is – and is not. It focuses us on the conventional proposition that legal business development is primarily about networking – when in fact — it’s not. Because legal business development is more transactional than relationship driven. And no, this doesn’t mean I’m suggesting that relationships are not helpful to legal business development. What I mean is – good business development focuses our business development action in a very pared down way – on to primarily the transaction between lawyer and client – or in other words — the discussion and agreement leading to the exchange of value for service between client and lawyer. This pared down focus saves time, saves hassle – and gets directly to the point of what both lawyer and client are trying to achieve in their professional roles – emancipation from exhausting and time inefficient traditional “networking” activities.
Essentially, the entire life cycle of good business development can be performed virtually – from identification of potential clients, to pursuit and capture of those clients.
Ultimately, the only caveat to this proposition is where the client requires the in-person physical presence of the lawyer or firm representative – to retain the firm — only this (which is, arguably, less than 1% of all legal business development activity – a non-scientific estimation based on my experience). Nothing else stands in the way of lawyers conducting all business development activities virtually: Research, identification of potential clients, pitching to prospective clients (in all the forms it may take), pre-qualifying those potential clients, negotiating with them – and being retained by them. Every step and every action in this process – can be done virtually.
Create a remote legal business development plan
At the end of the day – what the coronavirus epidemic has done in legal business development terms – is help demonstrate what already existed since the internet came into being in the mid-1990’s and became a predominant business communication tool in the early 2000’s – that good business development does not require an in-person presence in the absence of a mandate of that presence by the client.
With this in mind – reforming your legal business development plan and activities may become a priority for you and your firm. It requires a focused analysis of what is necessary and what isn’t – then the creation of an effective strategy to achieve your business development goals based on this new assessment.
I have spent the better part of the last two decades conducting remote, international business development activities for law firms throughout the world. I perform this work with a laptop and an internet connection – and I rarely meet with the prospective clients I help sign for law firms – which include multinational corporations, governments, state-owned enterprises, trade associations and investment funds, among others.
Indeed, successful legal business development – even where ultra-high dollar engagements with major organizations or entities is involved – requires little or no in-person client contact. Too, this form of legal business development is not glamorous, and is primarily solitary. What it does, require, however, is a deep understanding of how to conduct exceptional legal business development – from an understanding of how to identify saleable services from within rarefied legal practice specialisms, to translating those complex services offers for discerning clients, to securing their understanding of the value those services will provide them — to securing their willingness to engage those services.
If you would like to discuss how I might help you learn how to achieve your legal business development objectives via primarily remote work practices – please contact me via the form below.