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Firms blur lines between business development and marketing

While the majority of law firms recognise the need to separate marketing and business development functions, not many practice what they preach, according to a new report.

LexisNexis has released a report titled Law Firms in Transition: Marketing, Business Development and the Quest for Growth, based on the findings of a survey of more than 100 marketing and business development professionals in law firms across the world.

The report reveals that 94 per cent of respondents recognise marketing and business development as different functions that require different skill sets and 69 per cent believe that their firm should create a business development function separate from its marketing function.

While this is what the respondents indicate should be the case, more often than not marketing and business development functions remain somewhat combined.

Only 37 per cent of respondents indicated that the marketing and business development functions are separate departments in their firm.

Meanwhile, in 44 per cent of firms the marketing function reports to the business development function and in 66 per cent of firms the head of marketing and head of business development are the same person.

Further, 7 per cent of law firms have no business development function at all.

When asked what single most valuable thing their firm could do for marketing or business development, common responses included increase in budget, more investment in people and changing the mindset of lawyers towards business development.

LexisNexis sales director Guy Phillips said investing in new or existing customer relationship management systems is one way to change lawyers’ perceptions of business development.

“Perhaps the most mature adoption of the technology is when it is used to positively shift the cultural mindset of the organisation and motivate lawyers to willingly buy in to business development,” Mr Phillips said.

“CRM systems are sophisticated enough to facilitate such transformation.”

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