A great success: Israel’s first international legal marketing seminar


This article was published in the bi-monthly PSMG magazine, the hub for professional services marketing in the United Kingdom. The article below can be found on page 18 >> http://bit.ly/2pdALfe 

In January, more than 150 members of Israel’s legal community gathered in Tel Aviv for the country’s first ever international legal marketing seminar. Tamar Sacerdoti from Robus Legal Marketing reports on the event’s proceedings.

In January, more than 150 excited delegates attended Israel’s first ever international legal marketing seminar, jointly hosted by the PSMG, Robus Legal Marketing and the Israel Bar Association. Attendees came from a wide cross-section of the Israeli legal market – from boutiques to the largest law firms, from general counsel to members of the legal marketing community – to hear presentations given by Ben Kent from Meridian West and Gordon Brown from ClientSavvy. Both days were opened by Zohar Fisher, founder of Robus Legal Marketing, and Gail Jaffa managing partner of the PSMG. Robus is the PSMG’s Israeli affiliate.

Summary of day one – Ben Kent, Meridian West

Ben focused his day-long session on the challenges facing the legal sector in the “new legal market”. These challenges included:

Challenge one: more sophisticated and demanding clients

Today, clients increasingly expect their legal advisors to provide strategic and business consulting, in addition to legal advice. They want expertise and interdisciplinary experience, and also more value for a lower cost.

However, despite their changing demands and needs, clients do not want a significant change in law firm’s delivery model. Rather, they want to work in partnership with their law firm, as opposed to a supplier-customer relationship. Clients also have a strong desire for creativity, innovation, and change.

Challenge two: disruptive technology

As the entire audience has personally experienced, one of the biggest challenges facing the market today is how to use technology to streamline and improve the provision of legal services. There is a growing use of technology within the legal community, especially in relation to the supply of new services, pricing models and transferring legal work to law firms in other countries.

There is a clear appetite for online portals, and for technology that allows lawyers to spend less time on document review and administration, and more time on value-added, high margin, work. These technologies have the potential to be highly lucrative, and also lock the client in to using the law firm.

Challenge three: intense competition

One of the most notable challenges facing law firms is the increase in the number of lawyers. This is resulting in competitive fees, low profitability, and competition from non-traditional legal services.

Delivering outstanding client service

Throughout the day, Ben pondered the question of what client’s prefer: the price you charge, the service you offer, or whether your commercial offers are based on your familiarity with the market. Research shows that clients are most concerned about quality of the legal work done. But, more surprisingly, clients are increasingly placing grave importance on the deep and personal relationship with their lawyer, as well as their availability.

Ben provided several ways to create a sincere and significant relationship with the client, so that they do not feel “just another customer”:

  • Think about your client’s customer’s business considerations. Always take into consideration the possible consequences for your client’s partners of the deal, the relevant taxation aspects, and how these suggestions will affect their business in the long run.
  • Be more “user friendly”. Sophisticated clients expect their lawyers to be coherent and clear when communicating with them, leaving the legal jargon to one side. Use comprehensible language, explain all aspects, and include real world examples.
  • Request client feedback. Schedule a face-to-face meeting which doesn’t just focus on legal issues. At the meeting, ask about the firm’s competitors, and place an emphasis on personal relationships. Don’t forget to honour staff for extraordinary service.
  • Get out of the office for congenial meetings. Meet with current, past and potential clients for a cup of coffee. Do so for at least two hours per week.

Improving efficiency

Israeli law firm must streamline, Ben said. As he put it: “customers demand a wider range of services at a lower cost but with no decrease in quality. In other words, they want to eat the cake and not just leave it whole, but also lose weight”.

Ben then provided several practical way in which law firms could become more efficient:

  • Train staff to deal with the financial aspects of legal work, including the principles of fee negotiations.
  • Invest in firm-wide pricing tools.
  • Learn to scope legal projects, and hold serious conversations with clients if the work required exceeds the agreed scope.
  • Standardise processes and templets to include as much information as possible.
  • Better utilisation of the firm’s internal structure to manage existing resources effectively.
  • Implementing technological and management innovation.

Summary of day two – Gordon Brown, ClientSavvy

The second day of the seminar was led by Gordon Brown. Gordon’s presentation focused on what clients think, the challenges of dealing with the changing legal market, and how law firm leaders need to respond in order to secure their success of their practices.

How to think like a client

Gordon explained that the game has changed immensely over the years. Clients today are more educated, active and opinionated than ever before. They want their lawyers to be more than an execution suite. They also value organisations that work with, and understand each other.

Lawyers still tend to be “out of sync” with this need, Gordon said. Commercially, lawyers’ tendency to avoid risk-based decisions often leads to unsatisfied clients; culturally, there seems to be a lack of shared values.

Gordon recommended that while all firms claim to be client centric – they simply are not. The only way to grow your business is to begin trying to get inside your clients’ heads, and understanding what they’re looking for.

Utilise business development and leadership correctly

Gordon stressed that lawyers need to think more like businessmen, to better understand their clients and their working environment; that can only be done by knowing how to connect to the client’s decision-makers. To make this connection, one must make a compelling offer, which will make the leaders understand the quality of your service.

Good marketing requires a law firm to know how to form a message and successfully share it with potential clients. According to Gordon, the best way to successfully share this message is through focus, repetition and carrying the message out to all of the firm’s attorneys.

Gordon then explained the right focus of business development within law firms:

  1. Holding an organisational and marketing culture in the office.
  2. Remember that business development is an ongoing effort, not a one-time process.
  3. Adopt a direct business approach: sell an understanding of business rather than law.
  4. Remember that for one “yes” there are many “no’s”. Do not fear this.
  5. Client feedback is valuable – so do it right.
  6. Have hunger, motivation and confidence.

Gordon stressed that the moment that law firms leaders add business development to their agenda, convey a strong marketing message, and ensure that partners and the marketing team know how to present this message to clients, the firm will go a long way.

The challenges

Gordon stressed that law firms are not doing enough to become familiar with the needs of their clients and their business. Marketing plans towards clients should follow the “meeting with the enemy” concept. That is, plans should be able to change in accordance with the client’s needs, and also when competitor firms act unexpectedly.

The goal is to make the decision-making process of the client simpler: the firm should promise to learn what the client wants and needs, to supply it better than anyone else, and make sure the client understands this.

In “beginning to understanding” how the client thinks, law firms must differentiate between the needs of the organisation, the individual and society. For this purpose, law firms must lead, manage, and supervise the client’s needs. Firms also need to understand that, at the end of the day, emotions make up 80 per cent of the client’s decision making process.

Overall, the two-day event was extremely successful. Delegates received many practical tools and techniques that they could implement, to help them improve their legal marketing, their client relations and their business development strategies at their practices.

Everyone involved in the event deserves a huge thank you: to Robus Legal Marketing and the Israel Bar Association for hosting and organising, to the PSMG for their academic coordination, and to Ben Kent and Gordon Brown for their professional presentations – and, of course, the wonderful and engaged audience for attending.

For a full summary of the professional content presented, please visit www.robus.co.il/en/blog.

This article was published in the bi-monthly PSMG magazine, the hub for professional services marketing in the United Kingdom. The article below can be found on page 18 >> http://bit.ly/2pdALfe