Innovative law firm relationship management

Three coworkers sit at a round table in the office while working on their laptops

Keeping track of your law firm’s many client relationships is difficult enough, but gathering and leveraging key insights about those relationships is nearly impossible if you don’t have the right tools and processes in place. Recently, Chris Raymond and Chris Whitmore, Practice Group Leaders for Marketing and Business Development at Intapp, hosted a Legal Marketing Association (LMA) webinar called “Grow your Client Relationships: Cultivate Connections and Harvest More Business” to discuss innovative processes and technology that can provide key relationship insights and help improve law firm relationship management.

“Leveraging and applying relationship insight can be helpful in growing your firm and working through various business objectives,” explained Raymond. He and Whitmore explored how advanced relationship intelligence and scoring can help firms identify opportunities, win new business, and increase market share. They also explained how investing in the right legal CRM can help your firm better manage client relationships.

Collecting and analyzing relationship data

During the webinar, Gina Carriuolo, Chief Marketing Officer at Robinson+Cole, noted that although most legal firms have abandoned outdated methods of storing client information like physical documents and Rolodexes, marketing and business development professionals still struggle to access key information using their legal CRMs. She pointed out that general CRMs often don’t work for law firm relationship management for several key reasons:

  • Manual inputs — Professionals don’t always manually enter all relevant relationship data into the CRM, so client contact information is often inaccurate and out of date.
  • Decentralized activities and communication — Professionals also find it difficult and time-consuming to sync activity data to the CRM, leading to even more obsolete data that in turn leads to duplicative efforts.
  • Lack of insight — Most general CRMs don’t provide relationship insights, such as the strength of a relationship, how a relationship has evolved over time, or outreach patterns.

Because of these obstacles, many marketing and business development professionals simply email one another to find out if someone knows anyone at the client company. But, as Whitmore pointed out, simply knowing who knows who isn’t enough to drive business.

“Just because someone has someone [else] in their Outlook contacts or has connected with [that person] once … doesn’t [reveal any] ongoing engagement,” Whitmore said. “It’s not a quantifiable relationship.”

Raymond added: “[CRM] tools need to evolve to be able to start capturing more insight and more information around relationships.”

Investing in innovative technology

To leverage the full value of their client relationships, legal firms should invest in technology like Intapp CRM — part of the OnePlace Marketing & Business Development suite — which offers 360-degree intelligence and successfully tracks contact engagement across multiple touchpoints.

“[Gaining relationship insights] adds a dimension of both accountability and actions to [your onboarding] processes,” said Whitmore. “You can [determine] the right people to involve and what you need to do to help get them more involved.”

Intapp CRM lets users easily identify who at their firm maintains the strongest relationships with a given client or partner. The platform also provides automated relationship scores based on the volume, recency, and type of engagement, allowing users to identify those opportunities most likely to build growth and be profitable. Firms can create an outreach strategy based on these insights, and can even use Intapp CRM to track the ROI for their campaigns and events to strengthen those strategies.

Raymond and Carriuolo also explained how firms can leverage tools like Intapp CRM to automatically track relationships and engagement, as well as connect new lateral relationships with existing relationships to clients and prospects. By connecting this information and identifying synergies between their data, professionals can easily discover new potential matters — as well as any key risk indicators.

Building client teams and succession plans

All that said, Carriuolo observed, “the relationship process isn’t about technology.” Law firm relationship management tools can provide helpful insights, but a firm can’t successfully leverage those insights unless it has the proper teams and processes in place as well.

During the webinar, more than half of the attendees shared that their firms don’t have a key-client program. Failing to build a strong key-client team that is dedicated to understanding and meeting the needs of clients can weaken a firm’s relationships, Raymond explained.

“You need to ensure that you’re staffing your client team appropriately,” Raymond said. “Having a wide, diverse range of lawyers simply adds perspective [to engagements]. … You have to make sure to satisfy your clients.”

Firms should also conduct whitespace analysis to identify any practice and service areas that have not yet been sold to a given client. Once a firm has identified these opportunities and built growth strategies around them, it must rely on its various relationships — client, industry, or jurisdiction — to successfully go after these opportunities.

For example, a lawyer who’s a member of an alumni program has a better chance of successfully reaching out to a client who belongs to the same program. The lawyer can then work with the client and use the firm’s CRM to set and track goals for these untapped services along with relationship-building, succession plans, and other important factors.

“Technology has allowed us to … set up prompts and assign tasks and follow along,” said Carriuolo. “It’s the same data; it’s just surfaced differently now, and there are different bells and whistles that you can take advantage of.”

Schedule a demo to learn more about how Intapp CRM can help your firm leverage your client relationships and win new business.


Written by:

Christopher Raymond

Practice Group Leader, Marketing and Business Development

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Chris Whitmore

Practice Group Leader, Marketing and Business Development

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