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It’s Time to Start Leveraging Your In-Firm Network: How to Create a Cross-Marketing Collaboration Framework that Drives Business and Client Value

April 15, 2021

Moving to a virtual environment provided attorneys with plenty of lessons, from how to conduct a deposition over Zoom to how to make the world’s best banana bread.

While attorneys quickly mastered the art of conducting client business virtually, they also have seen client needs extend beyond their own practice area. They realized that their colleagues in other practice groups could provide helpful recommendations and solutions.

Now more than ever, attorneys can’t afford to be siloed from fellow practitioners. Unfortunately, the cross-marketing lessons have been much harder. No more water cooler chat, abbreviated or canceled partner retreats and the lack of new lateral partner roadshows have left firms scrambling and feeling the pain.

The Solution: Virtual Cross-Marketing Collaboration Framework

The goal of a cross-marketing collaboration framework is to develop a program that recreates the best parts of in-person retreats where ideas flow and partners leave energized about new opportunities.

A successfully implemented cross-marketing program will:

  1. Create opportunities to deepen relationships with institutional clients
  2. Foster connections and relationships among attorneys across practice areas
  3. Identify concrete steps attorneys and marketers can take to facilitate business development

This can be accomplished through thoughtfully curated, virtual small-group meetings that provide structure and encouragement for lawyers to make connections across markets and practices. During these meetings, each attorney shares one client’s story, then leads a discussion about presenting the client with additional services and/or offerings in new markets. Concrete action items and next steps are identified before the call ends.

The Follow-Up: The Most Critical Step

If the intention was simply to re-energize attorneys after months of work-from-home-fatigue, stop reading here. But if it was to drive business and create even more client value, follow-up is the most critical component.

  1. Review the action plans from the small-group meetings across the firm and identify naturally occurring overlaps
    •    Where attorneys across the firm work for different aspects of one company, create client teams whose focus is maintaining relationships
  2. Track activities either with project management software or a spreadsheet
  3. Hold quarterly follow-up events to reconnect attorneys with their original teams to discuss progress. As attorneys get the hang of the process, shake up the groups to make new introductions with fresh break outs

2021 has already proved to be filled with as many uncertainties as its predecessor. The myriad of first-time issues that clients are, and will continue to, inquire about presents the opportunity to generate greater attorney collaboration and ultimately add value to every client question.

This article was originally published in the February 2021 edition of Administrator’s Advantage, the bi-monthly newsletter from the Chicago Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators. It was also featured in the April 2021 issue of The Bottom Line, the newsletter of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law Office Management & Economics.

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