Trends in Legal Marketing and Business Development

In this 2018 joint survey from the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) and Bloomberg Law, they look at whether law firms are investing in marketing, shifts in legal marketer* roles and responsibilities, their relationships with attorneys and the increasing role of technology in marketing and business development. They take a pulse on the current state and analyze trends since our 2016 survey. With responses from 190 marketers and 135 attorneys, the results highlight where their perspectives align and where they differ. Overall, it’s clear that the pace of investment in marketing/business development and emphasis on these functions at firms of all sizes does not seem to be slowing down. And, this knowledgeable group of professionals continue to gain traction, voice and influence.

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2018 Report on the State of the Legal Market

The Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at the Georgetown University Law Center and Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute and Peer Monitor present this 2018 Report setting out our views of the dominant trends impacting the legal market in 2017 and key issues likely to influence the market in 2018 and beyond.

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2017 Law Firms in Transition – An Altman Weil Flash Survey

Law Firms in Transition 2017

Since 2009, when Law Firms in Transition Survey was first launched, we have seen outlines of a new, post-recession legal market emerge and then solidify. In 2017, there are few law firm leaders who would dispute the permanency of more price competition, a need for greater efficiency, an influx of new kinds of competitors, and the inexorable force of technology innovation.

Law firms are slowly changing – more slowly than we think is wise, but changing nonetheless. Clearly not all change efforts are resulting in overnight success. Some efforts require long-term investments that can be a tough sell with partners. Other initiatives may work quickly, but are one-time fixes that can’t be replicated for year-on-year gains. We see firms making only cursory investments where they should be aiming for broader, deeper transformation. And still many partners resist change in all its forms.

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Thomson Reuters, Georgetown Law & University of Oxford 2017 Alternative Legal Service Providers Survey

In recent years, the legal marketplace has seen an influx of new start-ups and new entrants looking to challenge the long-standing service model offered by law firms to their clients. Traditionally, clients looked to their law firms to provide a full range of legal and legal-related services, i.e., to handle every aspect of a matter, even including those activities that did not involve the direct provision of legal services. Today, by contrast, consumers of legal services find themselves the beneficiaries of a new and growing number of nontraditional service providers that are changing the way legal work is getting done.

These alternative providers comprise a new sector of the legal market, one that is emerging and evolving rapidly, but is still very much in its infancy.

In a first-of-its-kind effort, the Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute, in partnership with the Georgetown University Law Center for the Study of the Legal Profession and the University of Oxford Saïd Business School, sought to gain a better understanding of these new legal service providers, who they are, when clients use them, what factors matter to clients in choosing a provider, when and why law firms use them, and whether law firms view the model as a threat or an opportunity. Such a wide-ranging survey of a relatively new marketplace created no shortage of challenges but also provided invaluable insights into how these new entrants are carving a niche in the market.

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Bloomberg Law & Legal Marketing Association: Aligning Marketing and Business Development Resources for Law Firm Growth

In the 2016 joint survey, the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) and Bloomberg Law® found that 67% of attorneys and marketing and business development professionals agree that their law firm is increasing its emphasis/focus on business development and marketing efforts. In that same survey, they found that marketing and business development professionals were taking on increasingly diverse roles to respond to increased internal pressures to generate revenue. This year’s survey takes a deeper dive into the practical ways these increases are playing out within marketing and business development departments in law firms of all sizes and across geographies.

In this report, you will find data that:

• Examines how marketing/business development priorities align to firm priorities
• Describes how marketing/business development are structured and their involvement in firm strategy
• Analyzes the different ways marketing/business development departments are allocating their human and capital resources across channels and tactics
• Details how law firms approach differentiation and business intelligence
• Explores practice area and geographic expansion trends across firms

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Thomson Reuters & Georgetown Law 2017 Report on the State of the Legal Market

2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the “Great Recession” which brought to an abrupt end more than a decade of almost uninterrupted growth in demand, revenues, and profits for law firms. This led to increased pressure on corporate clients to reduce the overall costs of legal services. To do so, they began taking control of their matters and managing the work of their outside law firms to an unprecedented degree.

Clients demand for more value for their “legal spend” increased as well as their need for greater efficiency, predictability, and cost-effectiveness in the delivery of legal services. This basic change in client attitudes, coupled with a broader shift from a “seller’s” to a “buyer’s” market for legal services, has resulted over the past decade in fundamental changes to the legal market itself.

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2017 Client Advisory – The Legal Market In 2016/2017 And Beyond

While demand for legal services grew in 2016, demand for services provided by law firms (“law firm demand”) grew by a mere 0.3% at the nine-month point, based on Citi data. Law firm demand was damped by a number of external events such as a slowdown in capital markets and IPOs, oil price reduction, as well as acquisition of distressed assets. The Brexit vote put a damper on transactional activity originating out of the UK and Europe. Additionally, the surprise outcome of the US presidential election impacted law firm demand. Demand growth was driven mostly by M&A, particularly in the mid-market cap sector, and by private equity-driven work in general. 

2017 is expected to see low single-digit growth in industry revenue and profitability. The industry anticipates more investment in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence as well as a continued focus on improving efficiency, including shrinking office space, and adopting a less costly leverage model.  

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ACC Chief Legal Officers 2017 Survey

Geopolitical issues are affecting companies on multiple levels. Thirty-five percent of CLOs surveyed say their company changed plans to enter new markets as a result of geopolitical events in 2016. CLOs in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Asia Pacific reported that their companies made changes to supply and distribution lines. Thirty percent changed insurance and 28 percent changed employee safety policies as a result of geopolitical events.

Ethics and compliance remain the top issue for CLOs. Seventy-four percent rate ethics and compliance as somewhat or very important in the next 12 months, 3 percent more than last year (71 percent). 

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Thomson Reuters 2016 Report on the State of the Legal Market

Clients today are more willing than ever before to disaggregate matters, combining the services of several different service providers in order to achieve increased efficiencies. They are more open than ever before to utilizing non-traditional service providers (including non-law firms) to provide a wide range of services previously obtained almost exclusively from law firms. And clients are far more likely today to retain work in-house, bringing their outside counsel in only where needed to supply specialized expertise or to handle matters on a discrete project-by-project basis. 

Law firms have responded to these changed market conditions in largely passive and reactive ways. In the face of client insistence, most firms have taken steps to improve their budgeting capacities for client matters, adopted financial systems to facilitate alternative fee arrangements, accommodated the outsourcing of certain functions (like document review and e-discovery), and implemented some processes for project management.

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