In the overall scheme of things, lawyering is a relatively recession-proof profession. With bad times still come lawsuits and litigation. Less business and less hiring can mean less work for an IP attorney or employment lawyer. We all feel it. But the adjustment will come as consumers become a little more cost-conscious of hourly rates, and corporate legal departments are told to cut costs and do what they can to help the bottom line recover.
Some of those Big Law marketing departments that have been staffed up and restocked over the last decade or so are going to find some slashing of dollars and resources. Unfortunately, the powers that be often see “business development” as an area that can be downsized a bit before other areas of the org chart. You certainly are not going to cut the tech budget. The “intangibles” of many law marketing efforts at the Big Law level suddenly become a little tougher to quantify. But solo, midsize, and boutique firms may see new opportunities if they are nimble and able to operate a little more on the fly.
Might I suggest that this is not the time to curb your marketing, but the exact opposite? If work has slowed, take advantage of the time to work on those BD efforts that often end up taking a back seat to your caseload. Start thinking about where your firm and practice needs to be in a (temporarily, I hope) altered universe. You will need to be visible—and display an expertise, skillset, and price points that set you up to retain, regain, and grow your law practice.
The March 2020 edition of Law Practice Today—our marketing-themed issue—should serve as a primer for moving forward. Tim Stanley and Chris Skelton of Justia provide an in-depth game plan for getting business online in 2020. “Why Litigation PR Needs to Be Part of Your Marketing Plan,” by Jamie Diaferia and Zach Olsen of Infinite Global, highlights ways to up your PR game in ways that can positively impact the bottom line. “Building Client-Generating Law Firm Marketing Assets,” by Robert Gruler shows a different path to marketing success by the partner of a consumer-facing law firm in Arizona.
In a feature I authored, “How Will Your Firm Survive in Today’s Merger Mania Marketplace?,” I write, pre-coronavirus, about the impact of mega-mergers on law firms of all shapes and sizes. If I were rewriting that piece now, I’d also highlight the additional pressures those mega-firms now face as they deal with thousands of employees and offices around the globe—with some of those locations now completely debilitated. Operating like a mega-corporation brings with it a set of challenges that closely mirrors the global marketplace as a whole.