An interview featuring Jill Weber, chief marketing and business development officer, Stinson Leonard Street LLP; and Allen Fuqua, principal, Allen Fuqua Strategies
Each year, LMA partners with subject matter experts to identify the "next big thing" in legal marketing. This year, experts noted the difficulty that law firms historically have in making institutional change, given firm culture and structure. With this in mind, the 2019 Next Big Thing (NBT) was announced: Service Metamorphosis.
Service can make a strategic difference in collaborative relationships and can be used to differentiate from the competition. Jill Weber (Stinson Leonard Street LLP) and Allen Fuqua (Allen Fuqua Strategies), are taking NBT on the road, presenting the concept to LMA regions across the country. We spoke with them to learn more what service metamorphosis means to them, why this topic matters to the industry and the feedback they’ve received from members so far.
What does service metamorphosis mean to you?
Allen Fuqua (AF): Service metamorphosis presents a rare opportunity that can be embraced and implanted across the broadest set of law firms in the industry. Its premise of raising the level of service value for clients is universally understood by lawyers and law firms. Its process is simple and economically efficient for even the smallest law firm. There are no terminology gaps and the focus is where all of us want it to be: directly on the client.
Jill Weber (JW): Service metamorphosis defines the stages needed for a law firm to evolve its focus on client service to reflect the needs of the client. It provides a continuum of development that allows law firms at all stages to map out their ongoing evolution and development to more effectively serve their clients. I see service metamorphosis as an ongoing evolution, and we are constantly adapting our services and approach to meet our clients' needs.
How can you use service metamorphosis to set your firm apart from others?
AF: Where some firm initiatives emphasize tactics (apps, AI, social media, etc.), service metamorphosis works directly with firm strategy to evolve and transform the key factor in every effective law firm strategy: relationships with target clients. Law firm business revolves first and foremost around relationships with clients. The tactics will come and go. Tactics will provide support for the relationships, but they are never a substitute for them. The relationship is ultimately defined by the service experience a client has with their attorney. Focusing on service differentiation, as defined by the client, provides a competitive advantage for the law firm.
JW: Service metamorphosis provides a practical framework to help legal marketing professionals assess where their firm is today and identify specific tactics and metrics to move forward.
"Law firm business revolves first and foremost around relationships with clients. The tactics will come and go. ... Tactics will provide support for the relationships, but they are never a substitute for them."
Why does this topic matter in the industry right now?
AF: Right now law firms, legal services are in the process of being delivered by alternative providers that threaten the existence of many practices. Transforming the service level of legal services can make it much more difficult to commoditize those legal services.
JW: As we share in one of the slides from the presentation, expertise is table stakes. Clients want law firms to commit to demonstrable and measurable improvement. This topic provides our LMA members with a practical framework to improve service delivery, tailored to the needs of their individual law firms.
How has the audience perceived this concept? Are light bulbs going off?
AF: It’s a quick learn for everyone in the audience. The challenge and opportunity is how the marketing and business development professionals can provide the direction and drive for this initiative. That’s where the light bulbs are going off. Let’s be clear, it’s always a challenge to impact leadership’s plans and strategies. But this program is making sense for some marketing professionals as they seek to make a difference.
JW: LMA audiences are very receptive to this topic. They especially appreciate the opportunity to work in small groups to brainstorm ideas as part of a case study discussion. The audience engagement is very high. After a recent presentation, an attendee who focuses on events for her firm shared with me that it gave her a new perspective on how she could enhance future events to be even more client focused. It was a great, practical example of how individual attendees can adapt what they learn to their roles — no matter what position or area of focus.
Learn more about LMA’s Next Big Thing and access the 2019 kickoff webinar online here.
This interview originally appeared in the July/August issue of Strategies Magazine. Read the full issue here.