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Legal Marketing Trends: Data, Data Everywhere at LMA’s Tech West

A “state of tech” assessment from an industry veteran.

By Mark Beese

I’m going to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening? Data. — Hat tip to “The Graduate”

Marketers in most industries have been using data to reveal buyer preferences, identify trends, drive campaigns and make decisions for years. Now more legal marketers, firm leaders and legal departments are using data analytics to be smarter in how they connect with their audiences and manage their work. Here are examples from the 2019 Legal Marketing Association Tech West Conference, held last month in San Francisco.

How Legal Marketers Are Doing More With Data

Tracking Law Firm Alumni Networks

Amanda Stipe of Latham & Watkins and Rochelle Karr of O’Melveny are responsible for their firms’ alumni relations functions. Both firms use a combination of publicly available databases like LinkedIn and proprietary alumni management systems, much like a university might use to manage college alumni. These tools give them the ability to “tag” individuals with descriptors that help them connect alumni with various events, programs and job opportunities. Alumni receive invitations to professional development opportunities, targeted networking events, VIP receptions and other benefits that most closely align with their professional interests, demographics, location or connections.

The Growing Importance of Business Intelligence

Kirkland’s Kristen Hughes’ title is Associate Director of Business Intelligence, but she uses her background as a financial analyst with Lazard Asset Management and Broadridge Financial Services. At Kirkland, she combines complex industry data and human intelligence to provide industry group leaders and lawyers with predictions about where their markets are headed, what issues are around the corner, and what might concern their clients in the future. She partners with them to develop services and products that help clients reduce risk and provide revenue for the firm. The Big 4 accounting firms and financial institutions use analysts in this way, and I think we’ll see more law firms engaging professionals like Kristen in the future.

Project Management and Dashboards for Marketing and Business Development

Law firm marketing veterans Jill Weber of Stinson and Nathalie Daum of Dickinson Wright gave examples of how their firms track marketing and business development activity and results against benchmarks using online dashboards, project management software and engaging infographics. Daum noted that Dickinson Wright has started to track marketing and business development staff hours and hard dollars on a project basis, which allows the firm to more effectively track costs and evaluate the value of specific projects.

Using Data to Uncover Opportunities

Marketers shared numerous examples of how their firms are using data analytics to uncover business development and marketing opportunities. For example:

  • Segmenting audiences to facilitate “narrowcasting” — that is, highly targeted messaging to niche audiences.
  • Analyzing social media data to identify trends and hot topics, allowing legal marketers to create and promote more attractive and relevant content.
  • Analyzing client billing information to better understand and predict client behavior.

Some firms are using public and private unstructured data to predict client actions (such as a merger, insolvency or acquisition), so as to direct specific business development actions by an attorney.

The Client of the Future

A number of legal services buyers were represented at the conference, including Connie Brenton, NetApps Chief of Staff and Senior Director of Legal Operations, and Emily Teuben, Senior Legal Operations Manager, who co-presented the keynote on the legal departments of the future. Brenton, a founder of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), described how the in-house legal team actively tests new technology for the company, evaluating software and solutions for cost-effectiveness and practicality for months or years before making an adoption decision. The department also works closely with outside counsel, alternative legal service providers and legal technology vendors to improve processes and find better and less expensive ways of doing legal work. For example, NetApps uses an Instant NDA application combined with e-signatures, which has dramatically reduced turnaround time.

Tech Tools That Help Firms Leverage Their Data

Technology vendors at the conference illustrated how law firms are using data to drive business development strategy and help solve day-to-day problems. For example:

  • Foundation Software has a sophisticated experience management database that helps firms have a deep understanding of their project experience, which can inform pricing strategies, project staffing decisions and marketing strategies.
  • Intapp, a technology company known for its integration solutions, demonstrated how its software can visualize a “white space analysis” (the process of using firm data to uncover cross-selling opportunities), which informs cross-marketing strategies.
  • David Ackert demonstrated his Practice Pipeline software, which gives lawyers gentle reminders to contact prospective clients and provides a dashboard to track one’s sales pipeline.
  • ContactEase, a popular customer relationship management application, showed its Enterprise Relationship Management application, which gives firms insight into the strength of their lawyers’ networks and identifies contacts that never make it into their CRM system.

Some firms are using tools like Foundation Software’s experience database to help lawyers better understand their firm’s capabilities to empower better cross-selling.

In a Word …

Five years ago, when I first covered LMA Tech West, the “one word” I would have chosen to describe legal tech would have been “software.” Today, the profession has evolved from looking for an application to learning how to leverage data for more efficient and effective marketing and business development. However, the successful integration of new technology, the use of data, and innovation in workflow and process improvement heavily depends on how effectively change is managed.

During the keynote, Connie Brenton repeated her mantra: “It’s about process, people and technology.” Legal professionals need to be open-minded to develop creative ways to redesign legal processes and workflows. Firms need to train lawyers and staff in change management and leadership skills. Practice groups and client teams need to be proficient in process improvement and design thinking models to better serve the clients of the future.

The next “one word” might be two: Change management.

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Mark Beese

Mark Beese is President of Leadership for Lawyers, a consultancy focused on helping lawyers become stronger leaders. He provides training, coaching and consulting in the areas of leadership development, innovation and business development. Mark also facilitates workshops on design thinking for legal. Mark is an adjunct faculty with the University of Denver Sturm School of Law and former adjunct with the Center for Creative Leadership.  He is a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and an inductee in the Legal Marketing Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement. Follow him @mbeese on Twitter.

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