Late last year, ContactEase Director of Client Services, Amber Elliott, sat down with Jil Rinne, Director of Marketing at Larson LLP and Lindsay Vendegnia, Marketing Manager at Moye White to discuss why their firms decided to implement CRM in the middle of a global pandemic. In part two of the series, we’re looking at how to build a business development culture.
While Larson is a relatively new firm (established in 2016), the firm’s attorneys have tried and won cases in federal and state courts and before arbitration tribunals around the world and include some of the most recognized legal victories of the last decade. The firm is focused exclusively on high-stakes litigation cases and winning trials and resolving disputes on behalf of its clients.
CRM was identified as a priority before Rinne was hired, but as the firm’s first marketing director, she knew it was important to identify practical use cases to increase attorney adoption of the system and encourage its use to build a business development culture at the firm.
Rinne noticed the partners weren’t using their contacts for business development. This is something we hear frequently from marketers. Attorneys have great networks but often aren’t comfortable talking about themselves. This is something Rinne hopes to change at Larson. How? By sharing the knowledge she acquires across the firm. Rinne tracks most of this information on her own, but she doesn’t keep it to herself. When she receives information that can benefit another partner or practice, she shares that information with others. She preps her partners for meetings by providing suggested talking points to help them reframe their conversations. “I’m always trying to connect the dots and reinforce the value of the firm’s relationships,” she said. And her attorneys are paying attention.
“We sent an email about a recognition we received in a legal publication here in Los Angeles,” she recalled. “Someone who played basketball with one of the partners was on the email list and happened to be in the market for new outside counsel.” They read that news and immediately reached out.
Elliott understands these challenges and frequently coaches clients trying to overcome them “Clients always want to know how other firms are using CRM,” she said. “When I tell them that the most successful firms are tracking business development initiatives and taking ownership through marketing, I’m not sure they always believe me, but it’s true, and the easier it is for them to do so the more successful it will be.
By taking on a little extra effort now and building that culture, Rinne and marketers like her won’t be doing it themselves for long. To create that culture, you do have to lay the groundwork and show the value. Attorneys need to know that they’ll see a return on investment for their time and when they do, they’ll be willing to participate often and earlier going forward.
So, what advice does Rinne have for marketers trying to do the same? “I have my ears open all the time,” she says. “I just write it all down and then I go into ContactEase and enter as much detail as I can and set a reminder to follow up.” Her managing partner has been great about bringing her into the loop as well. “We’re trying to get everyone to copy me on e-mails as much as possible. We’re working on building that culture together. When there’s a pitch opportunity, they have to meet with me to get the marketing materials and if they don’t need them, then I look for other ways to get involved.”
As the firm’s first marketing director, it’s a new experience for many of Larson’s partners. In the meantime, Rinne keeps her ears open, makes herself available, and focuses on showing value to the firm with the resources she has available.