LexisNexis Study: Law Firms Cite Competition as #1 Barrier to Growth

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A Survey of 400 Law Firm Marketing and BD Professionals Finds Firms Upbeat about Growth; 85% say the Strategy to win new Law Firm Business has Shifted

law firm marketing, law firm BD, law firm business development, lexisnexis interaction
There’s a renewed sense of optimism for business development in law firms and wide consensus on the barriers to growth.

Most law firm marketing and business development professionals believe law firm growth prospects are more promising this year than last, although competition is the top barrier to growth, according to a new survey – Law Firms in Transition: Marketing, Business Development and the Quest for Growth. The study was published today by LexisNexis® Legal & Professional, a leading provider of content and technology solutions; it provides peer perspective on the state of legal marketing – and more importantly benchmarks for improving overall business development strategy.

“There’s a renewed sense of optimism for business development in law firms and wide consensus on the barriers to growth,” said Matt Thompson, director of the Client Success Team program for the LexisNexis® InterAction® group. “Legal marketers universally agree that winning strategies and tactics have shifted as the market dynamics have changed, though there are subtle differences in how law firms believe marketing and business development should be structured to meet market needs.”

Key statistics and trends on how law firms are tackling evolving challenges stemming from the survey include:

  •     Upbeat about law firm growth. More than half of those surveyed (57%) are sanguine about law firm growth this year, while about one-third expect growth to remain flat. Just 5% expressed pessimism.
  •     Competition the top barrier. Competition was the single largest challenge to law firm growth according to 52% of respondents. The next highest challenges cited were 2) attorney participation; 3) pricing; 4) no long-term strategy; and 5) no accountability, for example one respondent wrote in the open-ended comments “Lack of follow-up on proposals from attorneys.”
  •     Business development in transition. Upwards of 90% believe there is a fairly clear distinction between “law firm marketing” and “law firm business development.” When asked how one respondent among more than 300 responses quipped, “One spends money, the other makes it.”
  •     Variance in marketing and BD structure. About one-quarter of respondents said their law firm did not have a business development department, while 29% indicated marketing reports to business development. Just about one-fourth of law firms say they have a chief business development officer (CBDO) and of those, 81% said the CMO fills both roles.
  •     Law firms to invest in thought leadership. Thought leadership (63%) is the top area in which law firm business development and marketers say they will invest in online growth. Digital trends underscored additional areas of investment including: 2) analytics (58%); 3) blogging and content marketing (57%); 4) social media marketing (55%); and technology such as CRM (51%).
  •     Law firm investment in marketing. As a percentage of revenue, 13% said their firm invests between 1-2% on marketing or business development, while 32% said 2-5%.
  •     ROI the perennial challenge. Calculating the return on investment (ROI) on the activities in which a law firm invests for growth, continues to be a challenge. The largest group of respondents (43%) indicated they do not have quantifiable data. About one-third said they did (33%) with another 23% stating they were unsure. The #1 activity tracked among law firms is the win/loss ratio.

Unity, cohesion and firm-wide alignment were common themes in the final open-ended question of the survey which asked respondents for the single most valuable idea law firms could implement to drive better results in marketing and business development:

“Get attorneys to work together so that the client sees a united front and attorneys who get their issues across the board,” wrote one respondent. “Better train, equip, and reward attorneys for business development rather than a single-minded focus on the billable hour only,” said another. “Create a firm-wide business development strategy and implement/track on the individual attorney level,” according to a third.

The InterAction team is hosting a complimentary webinar on October 27, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. (EST) which will walk through the survey results and identify how legal marketers and business development professionals are capitalizing on the upbeat industry growth assessment: Law Firms in BD Transition Survey Results Webinar http://bit.ly/Law-Firm-BD-Webinar

A copy of the complete survey results in a PDF report format is available for download, with registration here: http://bit.ly/law-firm-BD-report. In addition, a slide presentation of the survey results may be viewed on the Business of Law Blog – New Study: Emerging Story of Law Firm Business Development.

About LexisNexis Legal & Professional
LexisNexis Legal & Professional is a leading global provider of content and technology solutions that enable professionals in legal, corporate, tax, government, academic and non-profit organizations to make informed decisions and achieve better business outcomes. As a digital pioneer, the company was the first to bring legal and business information online with its Lexis® and Nexis® services. Today, LexisNexis Legal & Professional harnesses leading-edge technology and world-class content to help professionals work in faster, easier and more effective ways. Through close collaboration with its customers, the company ensures organizations can leverage its solutions to reduce risk, improve productivity, increase profitability and grow their business. LexisNexis Legal & Professional, which serves customers in more than 175 countries with 10,000 employees worldwide, is part of RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.

LexisNexis helps professionals at law firms and legal departments of all sizes manage the business element of their practice or departments with innovative software and mobile solutions for customer relationship management, competitive intelligence gathering and assessment, time and billing management, matter management, client analysis, legal holds and more.

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Frank Strong
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