Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Market(ing) Conditions Result in Higher Law Firm Borrowing

Last week we wrote about the high cost of inadequate law firm marketing. While insufficient business development efforts may not be noticed in the short run, attorneys suffer longer term when a strong marketing foundation is not in place.

We see evidence of this in the following excerpt from a Law Blog post in today's Wall Street Journal:

"Dan DiPietro, the client head of the law-firm group at Citi Private Bank, says law-firm borrowing was up about 25% in the first quarter, as compared with the same period in 2007. Not only are the billable hours down at some firms, says Mr. DiPietro, but it is harder for some firms to collect from certain clients, many of whom are also pinching pennies."

It is admittedly a huge challenge to sustain a proactive law firm business development program when times are flush. Strong economic conditions translate into a healthy (or even excessive) number of billable hours, priced consistently with a law firm's rate card. New business seems to walk in the door with very little effort.

As we are now seeing, however, deal flow can change dramatically with consumer sentiment and the latest news from Wall Street. The attorney who has been working consistently to maintain a productive referral network, seek speaking engagements, and publish substantive articles on timely industry topics is in the best position to attract those business opportunities that do emerge when the economy ebbs.

There is a bright spot: marketing to your current clients is your best source for new revenue quickly. Watch for our next blog post on this topic.

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