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How should your law firm be tackling BD Planning and Management? Here's the LFMC's top-tips breakdown with Alex Barr

Examining your law firm’s business development (BD) holistically involves considering three facets: the past, which encompasses turnover; the present, represented by leads and conversion rates; and the future, where strategic planning unfolds. At the core of this lies the essential role of meticulous planning and effective management.

In a recent Law Firm Marketing Club webinar, trusted Partner, BD expert, and all-round legend Alex Barr shared with us his four-step approach to BD planning and management: Fact-finding, plan creation, implementation, and ongoing management.

I (Community Manager, Sophia) took notes so you didn’t have to – we covered a LOT of content.

Here’s the breakdown for you…

Fact Finding Phase:

  • The initial phase encompasses the fact find, which includes internal capacity assessment and external market analysis.

  • Evaluating team skills and workload is essential in capacity assessment to prevent under-resourcing.

  • Financial analysis extends beyond turnover to evaluate profitability and billing efficiency.

  • Positioning assessment integrates client feedback, NPS scores, complaints, and insights from referral partners.

  • Involving the wider team in the fact find is crucial for understanding departmental position and market opportunities.

  • Identify departmental strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats through SWOT analysis.

  • Pricing research entails analysing competitor pricing, recovery rates, and pricing variance within the team.

  • Crucial to understanding leads and lead quality is considering sources, warmth, and insights from referral partners.

  • A comprehensive examination of the client acquisition process includes sales procedures, inquiry handling, and lead follow-up.

  • Pricing research may involve unconventional methods like mystery shopping or confidential discussions with sector peers.

Planning Phase:

  • Plan creation should be pragmatic, involve budgeting, risk assessment, and present options for growth strategies.

  • Building blocks approach to planning helps align individual targets with departmental goals and fosters accountability.

  • Having a structured approach to managing referral partners is crucial.

  • Regular communication with referral partners about the leads they've provided is recommended.

  • Closing the loop on referrals is essential to maintaining trust and goodwill.

  • Failure to follow up on referrals can lead to a loss of future opportunities.

  • Distinguishing between casual referral partners and those under management is important.

  • Structured conversations and adding value to referral partnerships are key.

  • There's a misconception that the number of referrals directly reflects success.

  • Numbers and data are important for informed conversations and decision-making.

Implementation and Management Phase:

  • Responsibility for ensuring that marketing strategies are implemented effectively rests with both teams.

  • At the departmental level, BD should manage the rhythm around BD and marketing.

  • Crucial for success are consistent patterns of behaviours and open conversations.

  • Both marketing and BD should participate in board meetings and have a voice.

  • Essential is designing KPIs and discussing what works and what doesn't.

  • Realistic and open discussions should have backing from data, statistics, and trends.

  • Marketers should attend live opportunities to gain insights and empathy for clients.

  • Importantly, embedding marketing within teams and fostering open conversations.

  • Highlight the importance of collaboration between marketing and BD, ensuring alignment in strategies, implementation, and measurement, fostering collaboration between Marketing and BD.

Specific strategies for increasing activity, sourcing opportunities, and managing referrals:

  • Increasing activity entails focusing on opening three more files a month.

  • To source opportunities, explore various avenues like referrals and networking events.

  • Managing referrals involves regularly communicating with referral partners to close the loop on referrals.

  • In cases of successful failure at fact-finding, emphasise the importance of thorough fact-finding and research.

  • To build capacity for BD, address resistance by gradually building capacity.

  • Consistent activity necessitates emphasising the need for consistent activity and engagement.

  • Recognising barriers involves acknowledging barriers such as lack of skills and process and working on addressing them systematically.

  • Regarding departmental dynamics, recognise that every department is different and requires a tailored approach to BD planning and execution.

  • Pragmatic planning involves avoiding setting unrealistic expectations.

The webinar recording of Alex's session is available on the Members' hub of our website. If you'd liek. acopy of the recording but aren't a member, you can purchase it by emailing

Huge thanks again to Alex for his wisdom and insights.

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