Why It’s Smart to Market Both the Firm as a Whole AND Individual Attorneys

March 26, 2019

Some of the bewilderment (or frustration or hostility) law firm leaders can feel about PR probably stems from experiences in which the communications efforts were largely disconnected from business development strategy. If you don’t know why your firm is doing what it’s doing—who you’re trying to reach and how that connection might lead to new business—it makes sense to question whether those efforts are worth the work. But effective communication strategy requires understanding how your potential clients make decisions about where to take their business.

An excellent example of this challenge showed up recently in a Law 360 piece covering an ALM Legalweek Conference panel conversation. A CLO discussing how general counsels choose which firms to hire noted that his company has continued to hire a partner who has moved firms twice. That partner’s subject-matter expertise, in this case on a particular jurisdiction in an international matter, was more valuable than maintaining a relationship with a specific firm. The company was willing to follow the individual attorney, even though that created some logistical headaches. In other cases, however, GCs chose firms that had the kind of overall international footprint they felt covered their needs, even if they weren’t zeroing in on a particular lawyer’s expertise. In other words, they made their decisions based on both factors: the reputation of the firm as a whole and the reputation of individual attorneys.

Of course this has implications for acquisitions, recruiting, and other business development concerns. But it also should impact the way you think about marketing and PR. Is your communication strategy working on parallel tracks to promote the brand identity of the firm as a whole as well as the subject matter expertise of your best and brightest attorneys? If you’ve got the expert in a particular niche, what are you doing to let the world know? And likewise, how are you communicating to the marketplace that your firm is more than the sum of its parts? All these efforts can and should be tied to business development goals. We can show you how.