The Strategic Three Models to Support Information Needs of Lawyers
When I was a kid, I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books. I was the master of my own destiny, able to embark on the most interesting of adventures. I read with anticipation, wondering where the pages would take me, and always knew that I could go back to that fork in the road and choose a different adventure.
In real life, the legal industry offers many adventures for a legal marketer. Every day we make decisions, yet we know that it’s not quite as easy to go back and pick a different direction. So, do you pick the path of least resistance with perhaps less opportunity for impact, or pick the more challenging path that drives change?
Your team likely often faces the challenge of both educating lawyers about the need to understand their clients’ businesses and provide intelligence, and coaching them on how to use the information for client development. Do you leave research to the library or hope the lawyer is staying current on their own? Or, have you taken an active role ensuring there are systems and processes in place to help lawyers discover and act on insights?
Walk into any law firm 10 years ago, and odds are you would find stand-alone library and marketing departments. Libraries handled all research, whether legal or business. Marketers and lawyers alike would contact the library when they needed information, but there wasn’t much need for collaboration beyond these research requests. When the legal industry moved from a sellers’ market to a buyers’ market, the “know my business” client emerged — and everything changed.
In this new legal landscape, there is no shortage of law firms and competent lawyers available to clients. Clients can afford to be more selective and expect much more from the firm that they eventually retain. To earn or keep legal work, clients expect lawyers to understand their business, aligning legal services with business objectives. To remain competitive, firms need to proactively support lawyers to meet these new business intelligence needs, whether through the efforts of the library department, marketing department or a combination of the two.
Real-Life Choose Your Own Adventure
You arrive at your office determined: Today is the day that you will finally have time to devote to strategizing how the firm can better support the information needs of lawyers! What path in the business intelligence adventure will you choose? How you and your team navigate this challenge depends on several factors, including the firm’s size, culture and geographic coverage as well as the emphasis your firm places on business development and collaboration.
Gradually, the below three models emerge and you are at the precipice of choosing which adventure to take. Beware! Along the way, you might meet up with a powerful naysayer who tries to push you off your path or a demanding lawyer with an urgent request. What happens next is up to you.
Traditional Model The “Traditional” road will likely have the fewest potholes to navigate, but when you arrive to your destination, you might find that it’s a place you have already visited.
Purpose/Context-Driven Model The “Purpose Driven” path will have a few twists and turns along the way, but depending on what you are looking for, you might be happy you made the journey.
Collaborative Model The “Collaborative” route is likely to be the most challenging, but it is also sometimes the only way you’ll discover hidden gems.
Be safe out there! And remember, in this fantasy world, you can always go back...
Stacy Rowe brings 15 years of legal industry, client development and marketing experience to her role as Manzama’s director of client services. She excels in this role with her high-energy approach and deep knowledge of the law firm business, helping Manzama’s clients achieve success with the system. Prior to joining Manzama, Stacy was the director of member & business development at Meritas and before that, a Marketing Manager at Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.