The Relationship Between Lawyers and Marketers in Driving Business Development

I was invited to join Guy Alvarez on the Good2BSocial podcast to discuss the evolving role of law firm marketers in the modern law firm. We cover a wide range of issues, from defining (or redefining) marketing and how it differs from business development; techniques to measure ROI; the role of executive committees and partners in establishing (or thwarting!) an effective strategic marketing plan; how to translate strategic goals into discrete marketing tactics; and much more!

Here are some takeaways from the podcast compiled by Guy’s team.

Legal Marketers as Strategic Partners

Often, lawyers don’t recognize the different skill sets that are needed in various marketing jobs whether it be communications or web design which can lead to law firms hiring the wrong people for marketing.

However, law firms are evolving and there are more and more marketers beginning to fill strategic roles. With that said, there is still a long way to go before legal marketing is fully sophisticated and strategic. Some firms still resist marketing feedback, but many are eager to understand where they can make improvements and how they can innovate.

Is Law Firm Marketing Effective?

There are some fantastic law firm marketing efforts and then there are some that are ineffective. Sometimes unsuccessful marketing is due to firm partners making poor decisions. Currently there are some efforts underway to measure the ROI of individual tactics. Particularly with digital marketing there are built in ways to measure campaigns and analyze the numbers of people reached. However, it’s still not fully effective.

Marketing ROI is a relative measure. ROI is a measure of how to best utilize effort and money in order to accomplish the goals you prioritize within your organization. Just because your firm has a positive ROI doesn’t mean that you have an effective approach. Before implementing a marketing campaign, it’s crucial to assess all options and develop a strategic plan. Within a law firm you must make choices between where to invest time because not all areas deserve equal attention.

What’s the Difference Between Marketing and Business Development?

Marketing is about creating awareness and visibility to generate leads and create opportunities. Business development on the other hand is the effort to convert those opportunities into paid engagement. Marketing should be delegated exclusively to professional marketers whereas lawyers can take the lead on business development.

Encouraging Lawyers to Engage in Business Development

You can’t expect lawyers to be experts in how to convert every lead into a sale. Rather, have practice group leaders focus on what generates revenue, what gives the firm competitive differentiation, and what leads to relationships. Business development starts with understanding what drives the law firm today and deciding to do more of that. Successful business development is measured and goals are set in order to continuously improve. Done well, the science of business development allows us to look at how we do things, what we’re trying to accomplish, and determine the best people to accomplish each task.

Marketers have the power to produce the metrics and the framework for strategies that can help lawyers understand the value of strategic marketing. Partners then must recognize where spending may be inefficient and allow professional marketers to make big decisions.

How can marketing leaders justify the need for additional marketers?

The way to increase the capacity of most marketing departments is not to increase the headcount, but to eliminate the things that have no impact. It’s wasteful to continue throwing resources at practice areas and professionals that have no meaningful impact on the firm’s ability to generate leads.

Legal marketing is getting more complicated. There are two sides to marketing – the creative side and the analytical side – and in a law firm it’s important to have resources and experts in both in order to take legal marketing to the next level.

You can listen to the full podcast here. Enjoy!

Timothy B. Corcoran is principal of Corcoran Consulting Group, with offices in New York and Sydney and a global client base. He’s a Trustee and Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, and is a member of the Hall of Fame and was 2014 president of the Legal Marketing Association. A former CEO, Tim guides law firm and law department leaders through the profitable disruption of outdated business models. A sought-after speaker and writer, he also authors Corcoran’s Business of Law blog. Tim can be reached at and +1.609.557.7311.