Gould & Ratner deploys DealCloud to gain critical business insights and drive firmwide growth

Gould & Ratner, a Chicago-based firm, chose DealCloud to uplevel data analytics, improve the client experience, and grow their business.

Founded in the 1930s in Chicago, Gould & Ratner is a midsize firm that represents Fortune 500 corporations, closely held businesses, financial institutions, and entrepreneurs. The firm hires lawyers who are trained in multiple areas of the law and business, enabling them to handle a range of issues as highly skilled generalists while delivering solutions for clients. With specializations in real estate, corporate, tax, estate planning, litigation, human resources, construction, and environmental law, clients turn to Gould & Ratner for exemplary client service.

Overcoming the limitations of legacy CRM solutions

Prior to implementing DealCloud (formerly OnePlace Marketing & Business Development), Gould & Ratner was using a CRM solution that was part of its accounting system. Although the system stored some client contact data, much of it was incomplete or difficult to access. “What we had was a Rolodex, not a CRM,” said John Byrne, CMO at Gould & Ratner. “When we wanted to do simple things — like emailing an announcement to our clients — it could take weeks to extract the contacts.”

In addition to lengthy lag times for data requests, the firm’s marketing and business development teams were bogged down with data fatigue. “Because we were inundated with information from a variety of sources, we needed a single source of truth when it comes to the people with whom we do business,” said Byrne. “You can’t get there without an integrated client relationship management system.”

To address these gaps, Byrne searched for a CRM solution that could address all his requirements. “DealCloud is the best CRM solution I’ve ever used, largely because of its configurability and flexibility,” said Byrne. “It’s easily customizable, so it works the way we need and want it to work. Better yet, what used to take two weeks now takes two minutes.”

“Grouping and analyzing information will be our growth engine. This data empowers us to go after high-value new business and expand profitable engagement with existing clients.”


Building the business case for CRM investment

Byrne acknowledges that convincing stakeholders to invest in CRM can be a struggle, with much of the difficulty attributable to an incomplete understanding of, and sometimes lack of appreciation for, the benefits. “You’ve got to persuade people who aren’t personally affected to invest resources against an ROI that’s difficult to articulate,” said Byrne. “I find it’s most effective to contextualize the value in a practical sense: You can’t have multiple versions of an address on file for a client that pays the firm millions of dollars. At a minimum, you need to know who your client contact is and who gets the bill.”

When discussing the expense and ROI associated with CRM investment, Byrne advises reframing the conversation around the value of actionable data and its importance to future growth, and the CRM’s central role in securing positive outcomes: “Our clients — and how well we know and serve them — are the only tangible asset a law firm has. Why wouldn’t we assign that a value and take care of it appropriately like any other growing asset?”

Over time, he points out, rich, sophisticated marketing and business development data sets become an important firmwide advantage. “Grouping and analyzing information will be our growth engine,” Byrne predicted. “This data empowers us to go after high-value new business and expand profitable engagement with existing clients.”

Creating a best-in-class client service environment

Using DealCloud, Gould & Ratner now captures and analyzes data for marketing and business development intelligence that it uses to deliver outstanding client service.

“The goal is to create a client service framework where we have a deep understanding of both our clients and their business,” said Byrne. “Using this data, we help the lawyers see through the blind spots to align with client priorities, while opening the window into what clients will likely need in the future.”

Byrne highlights the importance of distributing data analysis on a firmwide level: “Sharing information across our firm about who our clients are, who works with specific clients, what type of work they’re doing, and what we can do collectively to generate new and incremental business is crucial to our success and growth. Providing lawyers with the context they need to assess situations with discernment, and then build well-informed plans of action, empowers them to deliver an exceptional client experience.”

“The discipline and rigor that DealCloud applies to our analytics keeps us on track with running the firm as a business.”


Leveraging marketing and BD data for snapshots and trendlines

Byrne cites two things that legal marketing and BD teams need most from their CRM: snapshots and trendlines. “We need snapshots to understand what’s happening in the here and now, and ongoing data capture and analysis so we can understand our performance longitudinally,” he said. “As a marketer, I want to know about declining clients, how we’re doing with collections, what our corporate deal flow looks like, and where we are with our litigation matters.”

For partners, fusing marketing and BD reporting with financial performance provides rich insights. “Time, billing, and collection is part and parcel with pitching and targeting,” said Byrne. “Ultimately, marketing and business development data intersects with financial data. Your actions must be financially sound and profitable.”

Without CRM investment, marketing and BD data teams are limited to qualitative data sets that require subjective analysis. By contrast, fact-based quantitative data provides stakeholders more confidence in the reporting. “The discipline and rigor that DealCloud applies to our analytics keeps us on track with running the firm as a business,” said Byrne. “We need to be able to connect the dots between effort and revenue, or lack thereof.”

Expanding the role of marketing and BD teams

Byrne predicts that the expansion of the marketing and business development role at law firms is here to stay. “We’re witnessing the professionalization of law as a business,” said Byrne. “Provided the right technology investments are in place, sophisticated marketing and business development teams will assume an integral role in all aspects of a firm’s business operations.”

As implementers of innovation, marketing and BD teams drive positive change. “We’ve rolled out Intapp’s mobile app to meet the lawyers where they are, which is on their smartphones,” said Byrne. “If we can make the interface more convenient to store client contacts in the app than on their personal devices, we all win.”

Looking ahead, Byrne points to investment in professional development as a key driver of sustained success. “Because our lawyers are our salespeople, we need to be thinking about who will be filling these roles in the long term and the training they’ll need,” said Byrne. “Knock on wood our key rainmakers will be around for a while — but in either case, we need to be building the skills of the next generation.”

Executive Summary

Prior Challenges

  • Rudimentary CRM made accessing client contact data difficult and time-consuming.
  • Diverse data streams caused struggles with maintaining a single source of truth for marketing and business development data.
  • A lack of any analytics software hindered users when they sought to report on performance or surface opportunities for new business.

Results with Intapp

  • Easy access to marketing and BD data: Elegant product design delivers fast access marketing and BD data and reliable reporting.
  • No more data silos: Purpose-built CRM enables complete data capture and serves as a centralized repository providing a single source of truth.
  • Support for firmwide growth strategies and objectives: Robust analytics capabilities deliver rich insights and timely snapshots, trendlines, and opportunities.