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10 Weak Links In Law Practice Development Plans – Part I

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One road less travelled in the Indian law practice market, is to come up with a concrete practice development (PD) plan and to be able to say it succeeded.

Yes, we have more than a few legacies – usually a function of time and relationships though. But when a law practice comes up from scratch and shows advance-mapped progress that has been attained in the shortest possible test period – that’s an effective PD plan at work.

So why can’t we cite enough examples of such effective PD market strategies in the Indian law practice market? There’s first principles level failure at work here.

Weak PD team: You don’t have bloodhounds in your corner

In the realm of law practice marketing in India, the foundation of success lies in a strong implementation strategy. It may seem like a no-brainer that the implementation side must be solid. Yet the instance of casual PD teams is more common than not. This is especially true in the Indian legal practice development market.¬† ‘Solid’, in this regard, would mean people who love disciplines and systems. Because market penetration, after a point, moves on the back of repetition. Consistent actions to move the correct points of contact with target. Done before the market catches on. Done at scale to increase likelihood of success. And assessed incisively and frequently enough to save fuel where there’s no result. This process needs to be repeated week after a week continuously, for the test duration of the market expansion plan.

Marketing for Lawyers is pure hunger for result, that propels implementers forward in this unabashed way. Nothing short of go-getters and pure hustlers in the PD team can show the discipline to stick to such war cycles.

Weak direction: You are not led by a CEO

North star, is a requirement for even the most disciplined PD team in the world to stay motivated. Professionals with a lofty work ethic lose steam when they sense they are only winging it in the competitive landscape of legal marketing in India. Law firm marketing strategies need to be implemented with precision. Very often remarkable efforts are wasted. Nothing reaches fruition, because noone was clear on expectation and timelines. Also, by contrast, false urgencies by leaders who simply don’t like their jobs very much. They don’t care enough to delve deeper into what works and what doesn’t work. They fear getting their own hands dirty and coming up with pragmatic tactics, leaving the law practice marketing in disarray. In those cases, expectations and timelines in a law firm marketing strategy are clear – it is all to be done at “best and now”!

All this leaves PD teams with untapped potential, highly disillusioned in the field of legal marketing. It is not long before failed targets become postponed targets and postponed targets become untracked targets, ultimately things culminating in day time naps!

Weak Implementation Design: You don’t swear by workflows

If Asana, Trello, Slack, Workflowy or Obsidian are not part of your everyday dictionary, what are you even doing as a professional in this day and in the field of legal marketing? (Unless comparable, better, tools are part of your Rolodex – in which case we would love to learn from you!).

A good market penetration plan in the realm of law practice marketing milks every action for several sub-actions. Each development is a trigger for corresponding moves flowing out of it. And it tracks everything in hairline detail. Because costs are its nemesis and data analytics is its backbone.

A comprehensive law firm marketing strategy is also three plans in one. There’s a plan for the campaign you are driving. There’s a plan for the volume of your visibility. And there’s a plan for saying NO – or the kind of visibility that one will avoid.

A disciplined PD team led by an able CEO, who have together agreed on vertical and horizontal workflows in all of the above directions will be able to add progress notes in all directions on a fixed frequency. And not just that, they will be able to link the progress of one sub-plan with effects on the other one or both in the competitive legal marketing space.

By contrast, read the next weak link to understand what happens when the above three elements are in lack.

Weak self-start: You ail from the copycat syndrome

In the space of legal marketing, Reaction, is never the fulcrum of a sustainable market penetration plan. Saw someone win an award and next thing you are hiring someone to fill all possible submissions for you? Saw another five people release data privacy webinars in the week of the Bill being passed and you try pulling one out of your behind on the same timeline? A few firms are tapping on to the ESG practice blue ocean by speaking at industry seminars frequently, so you too start a ESG substack?

This is all neither responsiveness, nor the fancy new law practice marketing buzz term “competitor analysis”. Understand that what’s visible to your naked eye from other practices’ publicity handles, is the culmination of months of advance planning tied in to several key analysis and long term result mapping. That is why it is visible at all in the competitive landscape of legal practice marketing. It has gained enough traction to come before you (and it’s more valuable targets) because they planned in advance and they stuck to that plan without second guessing it.

Weak foresight: You don’t power research cells to identify blue oceans

Swimming into lesser crowded markets needs to be a constant endeavour of sustainable practices in the realm of law practice marketing. While you need to be damn good at understanding who you already cater to, if you serve them well their current needs will be solved soon. What next? You cannot serve them well, then you are regressing on the path to growth.

But what are the underserved problems? And what is the data on your dashboard to justify that they are underserved? Law firm marketing strategies need to be rooted in data that substantiates these gaps in service. The Indian economy is a bounty on serviceable markets and is just as crowded on businesses and professionals willing to serve. The operative word here being “willing”. How “capable” are they to serve, and to what depth are their services tackling the underserved problems, is a whole different ball game in the dynamics of the legal market.

Do you have a knowledge management leg on your PD team devoted simply to the task of identifying business trends and how they shape your law practice?

Again, as happy as a lot of Indian legal PD professionals would be being paid to build a database of visibility efforts other firms have already tapped, remember its limited utility. With visibility, it works best when you are first movers. So what in fact does “competition analysis” actually entail? For us, at Lawfinity, one of the things it translates into is to go to the field. Find problems from the horse’s mouth. Do our due diligence on the level of penetration of professionals and businesses who claim to have entered that legal market. The other would be to have a journalistic sense or, what’s called in our journalist circles as a ‘news nose’ with which to digest the Dailies. That coupled with a PD team that tracks in a clean and diligent manner, and you have a sustainable market campaign for your legal practice.

To be continued…

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