Truly thrilled with this coverage from Law360 of our Clark Hill Law marketing and business development transformation. Every member of our incredible team and their efforts are represented in this overview. So proud to work with these talented souls who all lead with data, ingenuity, strategy, grit, inclusion, collaboration, and heart. And we’ve had a lot of fun along the way!
We discuss a lot in legal marketing circles the need to approach this work with intentionality as other industries do (no more “random acts of marketing”!) and the desire to advocate for ourselves as a substantive profession. For me, I couldn’t be prouder of how my colleagues’ efforts as outlined here align with that direction.
How Clark Hill Makes Use Of Technology To Market Itself
By Aebra Coe
Law360 (May 19, 2022, 3:59 PM EDT) — Asana, SharePoint, Wufoo, Sprout Social, Google Docs, SQL database and PowerBI are all fairly typical technologies for law firms to use in their marketing and business development efforts, but Detroit-based Clark Hill has leveraged those ordinary technologies for some interesting uses, earning it a recent international award.
Susan Ahern, Clark Hill PLC’s chief marketing and business development officer, is the quarterback behind much of the tech-heavy marketing tactics that earned the firm Best Marketing Initiative honors at the Managing Partners’ Forum Awards for Management Excellence in 2020.
Ahern recently spoke to Law360 Pulse, offering a look behind the scenes at the firm’s marketing and business development technology, and the platform around which the technology spins. The system has been up and running for around four years now.
Using off-the-shelf technologies like Power BI and SharePoint for data analytics and team collaboration, Ahern and her team have been able to build an online platform that allows them to track and make use of data in their decision-making around business development.
The data is input through a combination of sources. Digital collection forms are used to gather data directly from attorneys, and other data flows in from the marketing and business development team. Additionally, some streams of data, like digital reach and engagement, are automated through the firm’s other platforms.
“We have been able to implement online data collection processes for different types of data throughout the firm,” Ahern said. “Our systems then organize and store the information into different datasets, [and] our dashboards pivot on these datasets.”
Examples of the types of reports the dashboards can produce include detailed information on client feedback and check-ins, client pitches, event sponsorships and their success, attendance information on events and webinars, and data on social media marketing campaigns.
The dashboards, which are accessible through an online portal, visually illustrate through charts the activities the team engages in and the results of those activities on a wide range of the firm’s marketing and business development operations, according to Ahern. They run and update in real time.
“We have the flexibility to adjust the dashboards to communicate what is most useful,” she said. “Each dashboard is dynamic and can be filtered in multiple different ways by the user. We have been able to identify trend lines year-on-year through dashboards we’ve had up and running over a number of years.”
When it comes to event sponsorships, for example, individual partners and the business development team can see who has requested sponsorships, whether they were granted, and where that money went in terms of industry, client or geography. There’s also data on how much revenue was generated by the attorney making the request.
Since the firm implemented tracking around sponsorships, the number of requests for them has actually declined, Ahern said.
“Having that information has helped hold everyone accountable for what they requested,” she said.
When it comes to pitching clients, attorneys and business development professionals can search and sort data by the rates pitched, client, industry of the client, rate of success by office or business unit, and reasons the pitch was unsuccessful. The firm gathers somewhere between 35 and 40 pieces of information on any given pitch, Ahern said.
According to Ahern, she is often approached by legal technology providers trying to sell her platforms and services related to business development and marketing, but when she asks how they would capture, collate, organize and leverage the data the firm is currently using, the response tends to be underwhelming.
“The more I see of these technologies, the more I realize that they are limited. They are different versions of the same thing,” she said.
Earlier this year, the firm hired a data coordinator Todd Krigner.
Ahern says she remains happy with the system the firm has created in-house, which allows her to translate data, and at times non-numerical data, into something measurable that can help direct the firm’s actions and strategy.
“What we did was look at information that could be useful in influencing the firm’s direction and strategy,” she said. “Most technology in law firms is not being used to its full potential. There are so many other creative ways it can be used to really bring the firm forward.”
–Editing by Robert Rudinger.