By Michael Canfield - Editor/Reporter - Buffalo Law Journal, Buffalo Business First
May 30, 2018
Looking back to the early days of legal marketing, many think of personal injury firms with their catchy jingles or omnipresent billboards.
However, personal injury lawyers represent just a fraction of U.S. attorneys, said Adrian Dayton of ClearView Social Inc.
“Most of the lawyers in America are business lawyers,” he said. “It didn’t take long for corporate law firms to follow along. In the early days, marketing in law firms was immature. They didn’t know what to do.”
Along with a marketing role, law firms started to focus more on business development, Dayton said.
“You had professionals who were working with the lawyers to help them build relationships, go after larger targets and put together a plan,” he said.
Now the roles of marketer and business developer seem to be merging as law firms around the country bring in full-time, non-lawyer salespeople.
“All they do is find targets for law firms and go set up meetings so that the law partners can sell their services,” he said, noting that solicitation rules don’t apply when one is selling to lawyers. “If you’re talking to the general counsel of a large company, there’s nothing to stop a lawyer or anyone from going to them and selling services.”
Buffalo is catching up with national trends in the legal field, according to Dayton.
“There’s a common saying in law firms: ‘We do the things that have always worked.’ The market is changing. They could get away with that for a while but they couldn’t get away with it forever,” he said. “Now what you’re seeing in Buffalo is some innovative firms who are growing really quickly.”
In keeping in step with the rest of the country, Buffalo now has a local “city group” for the Legal Marketing Assocation.
Dayton, a national speaker for the association, eventually became a member, even though there wasn’t a chapter in Buffalo. But he said it soon became clear that a local chapter was needed. In February, a lunch was held to gauge interest in having one and more than 30 people attended.
“They were just thrilled to have the chance to get together,” Dayton said. “Some of them have been a part of LMA for over a decade and this was the first opportunity for them to get together with their peers locally.”
The group will hold its first official event June 21. “Adapt and Thrive” with speaker Tim Corcoran will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Phillips Lytle LLP.
Corcoran is from Western New York and has been a CEO and management consultant, Dayton said.
“He really learned the language of business. Law firms like to think that they work by different rules but they really don’t. Tim’s claim to fame is that he goes into law firms and really shows them how disruption is going to impact their business model.” he said.
Corcoran gives firms a strategy guide for the disruption involved in the rise of artificial intelliegnce and automation, Dayton said, so they can use the “disruptive forces” to their benefit.
For instance, a website such as Legal Zoom can complete wills for people, work that traditionally has been handled by law firms.
“They have this kind of Turbo Tax-style document assembly that’s now taking work away that for hundreds of years has been done by lawyers,” he said.
Marketing directors and managing partners from area firms will be invited to the presentation, Dayton said.
“We do expect the event to sell out,” he said.