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The war for digital marketing talent in law firms

Coffee, Glasses and a clear brain

Clarity for your firm’s 2020 vision

I love the cover of this month’s The Lawyer magazine, partly because I just did a sight test, and partly because the theme of looking back and looking forward is so important to the legal sector and the work we do at TBD Marketing.

The data in the piece looks at which firms have achieved their strategic goals. It’s a great read and you should take a read.

What caught my eye on Friday as I was reading the copy that two of the editors gave me was Cat Griffiths’ leader on The next 10 years in the law”. Her piece contains some predictions for the years ahead and, again, I won’t spoil the party by telling you all about those.

But the one that really arrested me was exactly where we are positioned as an agency. In her piece, Cat writes:

“The biggest skills gap in law firms will be digital comms and branding, but law firms will struggle to attract the best talent unless they look and sound more modern, so they’ll have to resort to big bucks instead. There will be a revolving door.”

Let’s break that down into the constituent parts:

“The biggest skills gap in law firms will be digital comms and branding…”

At TBD, we think that there are things that marketing guys need to do and things that lawyers need to know enough about in order to ask the marketing guys to do them.

On the lower half of the marketing pyramid, the split is probably 80:20 marketing:lawyers – more of the effort and delivery should come from the marketing team. Then, when we move into the BD and CRM phases, the split is nearer 80:20 lawyers:marketing.

We met some brilliant data marketing people in law firms last week – and some firms have clearly invested early in this area. They are making hay.

Our view is that there needs to be a huge influx of data marketers and digital talent into the legal sector over coming years to optimise the multi-billion-pound content generation industry we have set up.

“But law firms will struggle to attract the best talent unless they look and sound more modern…”

Hiring an individual into this role is one thing. Listening to the uncomfortable truths that their work uncovers is quite another. Some firms are willing to listen, others, not so much. It’s going to be interesting and maybe even sad to watch this one play out. Some of our tools and dashboards allow people to have de-personalised conversations which are currently more based on gut instinct than data. We look forward to helping you modernise your CRM content programmes, and supporting your more challenging conversations with authors and relationship partners over coming months and years. This is not going to be an easy journey.

“So they’ll have to resort to big bucks instead.”

You can spend big bucks on this stuff, or you can spend your time upskilling an existing team to take advantage of the new data-led era. What we provide is a set of market benchmarks to allow firms to be able to see where they sit at the moment and understand what they need to do to hit the next S curve of digital marketing advancement.

“There will be a revolving door.”

The door has, I am afraid to say, already begun to revolve. We’ve seen great talent lost to great firms because they didn’t know quite how to nurture it. Data experts and digital experts can sometimes be seen as pariahs delivering difficult messages most days and winning only in the medium to long term.

These people need to be given a special place in the modern law firm: akin to the court jester, able to say what they see. Maybe not entirely without fear of retribution, but with some panache and that all-important data to back them up.


If you’d like to talk data-led marketing, digital marketing talent and digital marketing strategy, then please let us know.




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