According to the Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute’s 2019 “Dynamic Law Firms” study, law firms leading the market in improving their financial performance tend to spend significantly more on marketing and business development than their peers. Firms today are realising that they can’t get by on reputation alone; sometimes a marketing push is necessary.

Dr. Mohamed Idwan (Kiki) Ganie, managing partner, Lubis Ganie & Surowidjojo.

Marketing is, of course, a top priority, because marketing is how we can implement our vision and our mission. At the end of the day, without marketing, there would be no clients. We consider ourselves as integrating three types of firms into one. We are not only a professional law firm, but at the same time a professional services firm (PSF) and a professional business firm (PBF). As a PSF and PBF, we have to grow our firm and sell legal products and services, and therefore have to market ourselves. Marketing for us means creating and growing markets, networks and relationships, and is not identical to selling.

We do not market the firm per se, but instead, we market our lawyers. And our lawyers market the firm and themselves. At LGS, marketing is, therefore, one of the skills we teach our lawyers. Marketing is what we refer to as a “legal entrepreneurial skill.” We distinguish between academic legal skills, lawyering skills and legal entrepreneurial skills. A complete lawyer must nowadays acquire all three types of skills. Marketing is a legal entrepreneurial skill and is also closely related to another legal entrepreneurial skill – personal branding.

“Speaking to markets” is best done through publications that have the right reach in the right markets, for example Asian Legal Business. The readership of ALB consists of both law firms and in-house legal departments. While other law firms might appear to be competitors and not potential clients, historically a significant part of our clients are indeed other law firms.

The key ways we are spending our marketing budget is engaging in strengthening relationships with selected publications, and in other ways such as maintaining and growing markets and networks.

Kia Meng Loh, COO and senior partner, Dentons Rodyk

Dentons’ goal is to constantly improve our brand, quality rankings, market position, inclusion, engagement and profitability while making a positive impact on our communities. Since combining with Dentons in April 2016, the entire firm has undergone a fundamental change in how we go to market, not just at the local level, but how we can help our clients expand their businesses to new markets. The acquisition and retention of clients continue to be competitive, resulting in law firms like Dentons Rodyk turning to their marketing departments to give them an edge. 

Apart from the usual approach on communications, advertising, events, sponsorships and directory submissions, there are three areas that have emerged as critically important. One is client strategy: Our focus in this area is to deepen client relationships through strategic client engagements such as client listening programmes, key account management and working with partners on selling the Dentons proposition. The second is digital strategy: Apart from the ubiquitous website, developing a digital strategy is critical in any marketing plan. Through analytics marketing, we now have data on what our target audience wants. In addition, we are constantly strengthening our presence on social media platforms by developing engaging content for our target audience. Thirdly, processes and tools: We continue to innovate and invest in tools to improve productivity as well as to harness data about our clients to gain a better understanding of our clients in order to provide enhanced legal services. One of the biggest investments to-date is implementing InterAction, a client relationship management software solution.

Amanda Bibbey, head of marketing and business development, Asia, DLA Piper

As a global business law firm with a significant presence in the Asia-Pacific, it’s important that we show our clients how our lawyers are placed to help them successfully navigate and capitalise on the opportunities created by such fast-changing markets. Our marketing activity goes some way to do that; we implement global campaigns that are relevant to local markets, tailoring as required, alongside locally-driven campaigns. Our marketing teams on the ground work closely with specialist sector marketers. Many of our lawyers go beyond conventional expectations with the work they are doing in their specialist industries: For example, in February, our partner Scott Thiel joined the initial group of governing council members for Hedera Hashgraph, a next-generation public ledger. Our role is to make sure this fascinating work is known to existing and prospective clients, so we help identify platforms for our partners to join discussions with those in the industry who are also involved in this cutting-edge, innovative space.

Ultimately our aim is to add value to our clients. One example of this is through our in-house counsel programme, WIN (What In-House Counsel Needs) which is well-established globally and was launched in Asia last year. WIN provides knowledge, support and networking to our in-house counsel community. We tailor our services to their evolving needs and it’s a chance to meet peers for networking at professional development workshops. We want our clients to enjoy working with us, too.

 

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