Insights From the 2020 Marketing Partner Forum

Last week I attended Thomson Reuters Legal Education Institute’s Marketing Partner Forum in Florida. Spending three days away from the office is a big investment of time, but I am happy to report that attending this conference proved to have great ROI! I learned a ton and was surrounded by inspiring law firm marketers, committed firm leaders and incredibly generous service providers. I would like to share some the things I learned about the current state of the legal marketing industry.

Trends & Predictions for 2020 and Beyond:

  • Approximately one third of firms are planning to add a client-facing account management professional. A small percentage of law firms currently have “salespeople,” but more are considering adding these roles because of the fierce competition for clients’ business. I have seen very few roles that allow the BD person to have direct contact with current or potential clients – the challenge is that Partners have to be willing to trust these non-lawyers with client relationships.
  • Only 52% of firms measure ROI on marketing activities. We often hear firms request that their next CMO/BD Director focus on capturing metrics and helping the firm to identify the best marketing activities to invest in.
  • 72% of firms have BD analysts to process internal firm data used to inform decision making, such as where to expand geographically or practice-wise. However, only 25% of firms have a data-centric role in their BD department focused on clients’ industries and trends that impact clients’ business. We know one firm that has three analysts that focus exclusively on the clients” business. The ROI on these roles is tremendous and their time is sometimes billable!

Where Firms Are Investing

  • Top high priority investments include experience databases and sales forecasting. Both help foster client retention and growth.
  • Another hot topic at the conference was firm profitability. I love learning new things and thoroughly enjoyed the session that walked us through calculating how much it costs to “carry” the average associate (over $300k when you factor in benefits, office space, etc.). Understanding the business side of law firms doesn’t sound sexy but it helps us to be more credible contributors. Interestingly, the two Partners I spoke to at the conference found the session on profitability as enlightening as I did! If you want to learn more, ask your CFO or someone in finance for a crash course. I am sure they will be happy to enlighten you too!


If these topics piqued your interest, you can learn more through Thomson Reuters’s Legal Execute Institute’s Reports and White Papers or attend next year’s Marketing Partner Forum at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Nigel in Dana Point, California.

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