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Four Reasons Why Legal Marketing Has No Future: Part II

By Burkey Belser
November 29, 2011
Four Reasons Why Legal Marketing Has No Future: Part II

Reason #2 Modern Law Firms Are Born-Again Solo Silos

Law firms are actually gawky, awkward vehicles for business. Lawyers have been for centuries raised to perform solo. Even today, individuals are encouraged to ‘build their own practice’ from a young age as practice specialists. As owners of their own practice, they are in competitive conflict with the firm they work for. This ‘conflict of interest’ culture subtly urges the lawyer to defend his or her own interest above that of the firm. Thus, it’s remarkably difficult to build a firm-wide rolodex or make an expensive contact management system functional because firms have created the uneasy, quasi-competitive practice group whose individuals are being encouraged to develop the group as well as themselves. Without getting too, too close to Darwin, the NY Times (9/18/11) suggests that the individual will win that battle, not the group; i.e., stars will too often jump to another team if the price is right, the team be damned.

That same tradition makes it unnatural for lawyers to cross-sell. I can’t imagine walking into a client meeting to talk about web design with any reluctance to also talk about a brochure system or an exhibit booth. But the culture of the law firm means that partners don’t really know what other partners do well. Sure, they understand a little, but ask a partner to introduce the strengths of the other; it’s not pretty. The result? Money left on the table…every single day. I’ve only met two firms out of hundreds where the culture and compensation structure lead to seamless cross-selling.

This is an excerpt from "The Future of Law Firm Marketing" as published in InsideLegal Thought Leaders Digest - COLPM Issue.