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LegalTech: 6 Tips for Convincing Attorneys to Embrace CRM

LegalTech 6 Tips for Convincing Attorneys to Embrace CRM-2

handful of recent surveys calls forth what law firm business development (BD) and marketing professionals already know:  competition is fierce.

If there’s an upside to a downturn, it may well rest in an opportunity to secure senior law firm buy-in for IT systems supporting BD and marketing processes, according to Deb Dobson.  The marketing technology manager at Fisher & Phillips LLP presented this and other ideas in a 2016 LegalTech New York session titled Convincing Attorneys to Embrace Business Development and CRM.

Ms. Dobson has successfully implemented a law firm CRM system – more than once and more than at one law firm.  She’s an encyclopedia of “how-to” information and notes her first go at CRM implementation 15 years ago was much more challenging because legal economic landscape was far more permissive. 

6 Tips for Implementing CRM in a Law Firm

The session lasted a little more than an hour and here are a few of the tips we took away from listening:

 1. Build consensus at the top. Ms. Dobson recommends reinforcing the economic impetus for change by compiling and curating data and news articles covering the subject.  Ms. Dobson specifically cited data from BTI Consulting as especially valuable – a credit we’ve also heard from law firm CMOs first hand as well.

 2. Personalize training. With executive support in hand, be sure to personalize training for attorneys.  After all, any system or network, even a telephone, isn’t very useful if no one is using it.  Ms. Dobson says she found success by training attorneys individually through 1:1 sessions for about 30 minutes each.

She also found that co-training with associate attorneys and legal secretaries – those supporting a senior attorney — was useful.  This was important for making the implementation as easy as possible for the lawyers.

Finally, even with a personalized training program, don’t overlook the utility of mass training sessions like webinars.  In Ms. Dobson’s effort, these webinars were recorded and made available for attorneys to watch at their convenience.

3.  Develop technology cheerleaders. Most projects have early adopters and enthusiasts – find those attorneys that inherently understand the value of CRM and enlist their help in advancing organizational support. “Spend time and energy with those that are willing to change,” as one session attendee summarized on Twitter.

In a post summarizing a session from the 2015 ILTA conference last summer – 3 Pragmatic Ways to Gain Law Firm Partner Buy-In for CRM – one attendee expressed a variation of this idea:

Craig Bayer described an ‘internal campaign’ he built ‘to promote’ a CRM project at a firm that employed him previously. He ran a pilot program and identified ‘champion attorneys’ who ‘spread the word about the benefits’ of CRM on their own. He noted one pivotal stage in the campaign where the perception of CRM, and perhaps even the marketing department, shifted from a cost center to a revenue generator.”

 4. Compile and share success stories. The value proposition for a CRM system has a whole lot more credibility when one attorney confirms it for another, said Ms. Dobson.  It’s a point she has previously driven home in a blog post titled, How Law Firms Can Successfully Implement a CRM System:

 “Marketing professionals can tell the attorney how a CRM will help them with their marketing and business development, but nothing is more effective than an attorney telling other attorneys how helpful and useful the CRM has been for them. For example, if an attorney uses the email merge feature to easily send personalized emails to a group of contacts and a contact responds with an opportunity, upon hearing the story other attorneys will want to learn how to do the same.”

 5. Measurement and metrics matter. Nothing incites friendly competition enabling a good goal like measurement.  One metric that Ms. Dobson shared was the percentage of contacts shared by attorneys in the CRM system.

In a session summary from the 2014 ILTA conference – 9 Creative CRM Tips for Getting Lawyers to Share Data – one attendee suggested partnering with the financial department for additional metrics:

“Finance holds the key to the numbers – and law firm business development needs access to those numbers to demonstrate the output of CRM effort. One work group member noted her requests to finance for reports were so prolific, that finance finally asked her if it would be easier to provide her access to the data (a designed effect). That data can then be used as proof points to demonstrate CRM value to attorneys.”

 6. Law firm CRM is a triathlon. If there’s a cautionary tale, and there usually is, Ms. Dobson might suggest starting such projects small and grow them from there.  It’s almost cliché to say a long term project “it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” but Ms. Dobson emphasized it could be even be compared to a triathlon.

Having fielded a team, including tri-athletes from the InterAction product management team, to compete in the LexisNexis IRONMAN® Raleigh 70.3 triathlon two years in a row, it’s analogy we are glad to embrace.

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For readers interested in learning more from Ms. Dobson, she’s quite active on LinkedIn and frequently writes or shares content of interest to the law firm marketing and technology community.

See our additional news and coverage stemming from LegalTech 2016:


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About Frank Strong

Frank Strong
Frank Strong is the communications director for the LexisNexis software division located on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. In this capacity, he leads communications efforts in support of software products for law practice and law department management and also litigation tools – across large law, small law and corporate counsel segments. With more than 15 years of experience in the high-tech sector, Strong previously served as director of public relations for Vocus, which developed marketing, PR and media monitoring software. He has held multiple roles both in-house with corporations, ranging from startups to global organizations, and has also endured the rigors of billable hours, having completed gigs at PR firms including the top 10 global firm Hill & Knowlton. A veteran of two year-long deployments, Strong has concurrently served in uniform in reserve components of the military for more than 20 years, initially as an enlisted Marine and later as an infantry officer in the Army National Guard. Strong holds a BA in Film and TV production from Worcester State University, an M.A. in Public Communication from American University, and an M.B.A. from Marymount University. He is a PADI-certified Master Scuba Diver and holds a USPA "B" skydiving license.