Sunday, July 1, 2012

Firms Need to Work Harder Online to Get GCs' Business and Attention

Hubbard One, a provider of marketing and business development software and solutions for law firms, aimed to answer a key question for outside counsel in its new report, “Building Relationships with Global General Counsel: How Firms Can Use Targeted Content and Experience to Win and Retain Business.”

The question flows from the recent economic downturn that impacted the way general counsel and outside law firms do business together. Law firms have beefed up their marketing and business development, especially on the web, but have they been successful in catching the attention of the GCs?

The answer is mixed. “There is a gap between what the general counsel want and what is being provided on the web by law firms,” explains John Simpson, the senior director of interactive marketing at Hubbard who worked on the report.

The report surveyed more than 40 in-house legal officers working at multinational corporations headquartered in the United States, the United Kingdom, and across Europe. The results show in-house lawyers are looking for more customized methods of communication with their outside service providers, including emails and web content. The burden is now on the law firms to prove their capabilities.

The 2012 report builds on a 2009 study [PDF], which showed how GCs use law firm websites to find outside counsel, but focused primarily on how the firms were using the Internet and social media to attract work from corporate clients.

Since the economic turmoil of 2008 and beyond, tighter budgets have limited general counsel’s ability to hire outside help, Simpson says. Hubbard’s surveyors expected that pricing for services would be an important factor for general counsel, but something else trumped price, Simpson says: “We’ve heard from general counsel that expert knowledge of a company’s sector is more important than pricing now.”

For law firms, this creates an extra burden to use online tools to showcase their knowledge of specific business sectors. The most important features of a law firm’s website are clear and usable navigation, and relevant and valuable content, according to the report. The study found attorney profiles are the single most important destination on law firm sites.

Many of the companies interviewed were multinational corporations that conduct business in many countries, Simpson says. GCs noted that searching for counsel in the U.S. was easy, but in the international sphere, it was much more difficult for GCs to find firms that could practice where they need them to. “It was like searching for a needle in a haystack,” Simpson says.

The key for law firms to take from this report, Simpson explains, is the need for more targeted communication. GCs don’t want to work to find the information they need—they don’t want more communication, they need better communication.

See also: “Hiring International Outside Counsel? Better Do Your Homework,” CorpCounsel, June 2012.

1 comment:

jack said...

Hubbard One, a provider of marketing and business development
law software