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Last week we gave you a whirlwind tour of the LMA 2014 Conference Day one, and now hot on its heels is the second in the blog series, looking at day two – should you have missed out on some of the action…

Innovation was the buzz word of the day for the second installment of the Legal Marketing Annual Conference 2014 in Florida, as key speakers examined the future of the legal industry.

Julia Rivard Dexter , senior partner at Norex, believes that law firms are stuck in ‘best practices’ and traditional ways of operating, a problem which is holding back their true marketing potential. Dexter believes that all firms should have innovation at the core of their company values, so that they can fall in line with their competitors who have already embraced new technology and communication. In response, many of the comments on Facebook and Twitter supported Dexter’s view that traditionalist law firms are becoming outdated and the guests at LMA recognised the need for innovation.

Also revealed was another area in need of reevaluating – the pricing structure used by today’s law firms. In an interesting debate, consensus revealed a need for firms to focus on the profitability of each practice instead of the outdated method of blindly billing by the hour. An innovative approach to pricing will ensure that law firms fall in line with their growing competitors.

Unsurprisingly, social and digital marketing was also on the agenda for day two of the conference, with many guests and speakers highlighting the need for lawyers to adapt to these new forms of communication. The importance of blogging for law firms was a key issue for discussion, emphasising the need for lawyers to use blogging and social media as a way to establish thought leadership and authority in their respective areas. Traditionally, lawyers and law firms have relied on their reputation in their field to gain new business, but now they must communicate this authority through the use of social and digital channels (Why not check out our Legal Tweeter of the Week series for ideas and inspiration on social media for law firms?)

Marketing strategists at the LMA14 event were advocating a ‘top down’ approach as a way of encouraging lawyers to embrace social media. They argued that the CEOs and top level executives of law firms need to be active in using and promoting social media to their employees. Discussions revealed that out of all the firms in The American Lawyer 100, there were only three ‘Generation X’ managing partners who were comfortable and proactive in using social media. In addition only 32% of Fortune 500 CEO’s use social media, with the predominant issue being time management. (For a British take on the use of social media in law firms check out the Digital and Social Technologies report carried out by the Managing Partners’ Forum, Professional Marketing Forum and Elephant Creative last year)

The second day of the conference was also dominated by discussions emphasising the traditionalist approach of many law firms and the real need for innovation to modernise the way lawyers are communicating. Focus was placed on the need for top level staff to create their own content and nurture relationships using digital and social channels.

After another insightful event it seems that the key point to take away from this year’s conference is the need for law firms to adapt to the unfamiliar and embrace new technology. Only through innovative thinking can traditional law firms move forward with their marketing strategies.