Barbara Koenen Geerdink

The days when new clients just walked through the door of a law firm are long gone. As most Asian jurisdictions restrict firms from promoting their services, marketing expert Barbara Koenen-Geerdink shares the workaround through business development strategies

Like any organisation, sales is important for law firms, too. If you can’t sell, you may as well shut up shop. New files and a flood of work do not just come the way of firms. You need to ensure there is a continual flow of work coming in, even if that means that you need to proactively go out there to get that work.

Even though most firms continue to benefit from having a strong profile and brand reputation in the market, larger firms now have a strong focus on business development, and sometimes even have teams in place to assist with that. Quite simply put, business development is crucial for a law firm.

Can you rely on a business development team to ensure a constant flow of work? Well, the business development team can certainly support in identifying the right contacts, help with client analysis, research the market, and support with business plans and preparing proposals, but at the end of the day clients come to the firm because they trust the lawyers.

The trust in the lawyers that are capable of helping them with their legal queries will determine the strength of the relationship going forward and lawyers, therefore, play an important business development function.

Law school v law firm

Law schools don’t teach you how to become a commercially savvy lawyer, manage clients contacts, attract new clients, or be a good leader of a department or a firm. However, all of these skills are crucial to building a sustainable practice.

While marketing and business development can help with this, it is important that lawyers learn the essential skills, too. Before we discuss how legal professionals can do business development, let us agree on the terminology first. What does business development for legal professionals actually mean?

Business development is often misunderstood and confused with marketing, but they are two separate things. Business development comes before marketing, and includes understanding the market in which you operate, who your clients are, and who your clients should be.

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