Apr 8 '13
This is the law’s fastest cross-examination where the interviewee has to respond in fewer than 140 characters.
The latest interviewee to face our high-speed questioning is Deborah Scaringi, an Independent Marketing Consultant at Scaringi Marketing. Recently recognised at the ‘Your Honor Awards’ within the Legal Marketing Association’s New England Chapter, she a doyen of the LMA and US legal market.
So what does Deborah think is the secret to legal marketing success? And what changes does she see happening in the US? We set out to find out…
Elephant Creative: What are you up to right now?
Deborah Scaringi: Great marcomm projects: websites, blogs and social media. Also enjoying one-on-one business development coaching and a new firm launch.
EC: Fancy explaining what you do, in fewer than 140 characters?
DS: I help lawyers uncover the right marketing mix & then provide the structure and support to develop relationships that bring in business.
EC: What’s been your career path to this?
DS: I found legal marketing by chance in 1998. With the economy dip in 2007, I faced my ‘go for it’ moment. I haven’t once looked back!
EC: So, you now work as a consultant but before that were in-house, with various law firms. How are things different on the ‘outside’?
DS: So many things! But perhaps the best is working with individuals who WANT to market their services. Their motivation and focus is inspiring.
EC: Business development and marketing isn’t really something lawyers concern themselves with is it?
DS: Depends on the attorney. Some are very entrepreneurial and understanding busdev/marcom is incredibly important to their overall success.
EC: Care to explain legal business development and legal marketing in 140 characters or fewer?
DS: It is the intersection of relationships, service, knowledge, resourcefulness, problem solving, financial stability and value.
EC: How do you think law firms in the US have been affected by the economy?
DS: US law firms are adapting their approach to practicing law. Successful firms are lean, business-minded & problem solvers who sell.
EC: Would you think that changes in technology have affected many firms in the US?
DS: Absolutely! Firms need to be up to date with technology to meet the service expectations of clients. There are no other options.
EC: We’ve heard from the Financial Times, in the UK, that client-advisor relationships are undergoing a fundamental change. Have you noticed this in the US?
DS: For sure! Lawyer-Client relationships are modernizing slowly. Early adopters will see the most benefit, in my opinion.
EC: How have the firms you’ve worked with adapted to this need to change?
DS: They are using familiar business tools in a legal world context: social media, sales tools, client service, and the old fashion “close”.
EC: Law firms have been under pressure to move away from the billable hour model and become more commercially aware… have you noticed many actually changing in the US?
DS: There is a lot of talk about pricing lately. Firms are trying to be open-minded and try AFAs, but it seems slow to catch on as the ‘norm’.
EC: To your mind, how good a job are law firms where you work, doing with marketing and business development?
DS: They are improving. Firms of all sizes seem to recognize the need for business development. Of course, some are more successful than others.
EC: What about branding?
DS: Firms are more comfortable with branding, but many still see it as only a logo or color scheme. As we know, it’s so much more than that!
EC: And social media?
DS: It’s slowly catching, but many firms restrict uses, hurting the effectiveness. Mktg folks are integrating SM in small ways successfully.
EC: And blogging?
DS: Similar to social media, there are restrictions being imposed on blogs that limit effectiveness. But US firms are in the right direction.
EC: What would you say the most popular/effective form of business development/marketing technique is where you work?
DS: Can’t say it’s most popular but I think it’s most effective – repetitious & targeted in-person contact followed with meaningful touchpoints.
EC: I know you’re involved with the Legal Marketing Association. What does that do?
DS: It keeps me invigorated in this industry! LMA allows like-minded professionals to develop deep relationships in an educational environment.
EC: What’s your prognosis for the small to medium sized firm in the UK or US, thinking about trying something new?
DS: I think anything is possible with a well-thought out strategy, written goals and laser focused advisors.
EC: How much of a threat, to US law firms, do you think the new raft of online legal service providers are?
DS: There is some threat for low-cost services. But, there will always be work for attorneys who combine strategy with trust and value.
EC: Are there any law firms or lawyers who are doing exciting things in your eyes?
DS: There are. But perhaps most exciting is seeing lawyers take a chance by doing something that shows their human side.
EC: Words of advice for a law firm thinking of working with someone like yourself?
DS: Don’t be afraid, ask for honest opinions, set a budget & start now by working your plan in small steps. Trust your gut. Hire good chemistry!
The LMA Annual Conference is taking place in Las Vegas this week. Look out for our daily round-ups of the event starting later today.