My Shingle

Biglaw is Selling Connections. Can You?

by Carolyn Elefant on October 1, 2009 · 0 comments

in Client Service, Marketing & Making Money, New Marketing Ideas

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In the past, I’ve recommended  Meetup.com as a resource for solo and small firm lawyers seeking speaking engagements.  Meetup.com makes it easy to find one of thousands of groups that meet locally and which might have an interest in hosting a legal speaker on a relevant topic.

Though I know of many solo and small firm lawyers who’ve tried Meetup.com as a marketing resource, I must confess that I didn’t realize  that large firms were using it as well.  So I was interested to see this video clip from a Silicon Valley New Tech MeetUp hosted by DLA Piper, the world’s second largest law firm.  In the clip, the lawyer emphasizes DLA’s deep roots in the Silicon Valley (a global law firm with local presence) and describes the legal tools that the firm can offer clients (IP, corporate, etc…).  But the lawyer’s major selling point is the firm’s Venture Pipeline, a program where the firm helps clients connect with potential funding sources.  Talk about a value add.

Many solo and small law firms try to position themselves to work for start-ups, believing that newer companies will find small firm rates more appealing.  But for many start ups, cheaper rates in the short term pale by comparison to the promise of big money in the longer term, particularly if the firm has proof that it can deliver.

What can value add can you offer your clients besides great service or top notch representation at reasonable rates?  After all, competence and good service are the bare minimum, while reasonable rates, if nothing else, are an ethical imperative.   So, if you represent start-ups, can you, like DLA Piper connect them with funding sources or other folks (say, journalists or PR people or potential joint venturers) who can help them get their business off the ground?  If you work with non-profits, can you put your clients in touch with folks in their field who might be interested in serving on their boards of making donations?  If you work with regulated entities, can you make introductions to regulators and show your clout, which I’ve posted on previously here?

DLA Piper isn’t resting on its laurels as a big firm with a big name.  As the video shows, their lawyers propose to bring something extra — the promise of cash and connections — to start-ups.  You may want to rage against biglaw poaching your clients, but in my view, DLA Piper is an example of a large firm doing marketing right (I’m not talking performance because I can’t speak to the effectiveness of the Venture Pipeline.  Just marketing).  f you haven’t thought about what kind of value-add you can bring to clients — not just through the attorney-client relationship but also outside of it — then your clients just might seek out law firms that have.

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