24 November 2020

"Most clients of law firms are keen to get true pieces of thought leadership and market intelligence"

Alvaro Navarro Sotillos, Editor in Chief of The Impact Lawyers Magazine, had the pleasure to conduct an email interview with Ben Paul.

Ben Paul is the Director & Founder of The BD Ladder, a consultancy specialising in growing Legal and Professional Services firms. He has held senior BD and marketing roles in leading law firms and has over two decades experience in business development and marketing.

What is the main goal of The BD Ladder?

Our main aim is to help experts and professionals, like lawyers, who need to market and sell their services, but whose passion is in their own expertise, not sales and marketing

Our passion is in Business Development (BD), sales and marketing. The BD Ladder’s Founder, Ben Paul has over 20 years’ experience in this field and has worked for many leading law firms and global professional services firms.

Our main goal is to develop the understanding and build the confidence of lawyers so that they can communicate more effectively with their clients. A common phrase is that “people buy from people”.  This is true, but in fact they only buy from those people who they trust, those who take time to understand them fully.

In essence we look to help make everyone we work with become a rainmaker.

What are the main clients of The BD Ladder?

The BD Ladder started in May 2020 and already our main clients are in the professional services industry. We have been very successful in working with law firms in our domestic market (NZ) and in Australia. What we have found in the new normal is that geographic location is less of a barrier to the services we offer, and clients and potential clients are expressing interest in what we offer from across the World.

Ben Paul has worked in this sector in the UK, NZ and Australia so this, allied with the uptake in video calls and other remote working technology, has opened up new and exciting markets for us.

In what sense could The BD Ladder help lawyers to increase their client base or the revenue from their existing clients?

The basics of sales and business development apply across all industries, however, there is a real nuance in how it needs to be applied successfully by lawyers and across law firms. Our in-depth experience in this sector means we can apply the right methodology and approach that will work for each individual lawyer.

As an example, the way a litigation expert and the way an M&A expert will approach the market to build their practices, will be markedly different. While both will need to build key industry relationships, the methods applied to do so will be very different. One will be building relationships by bringing ideas and opportunities to their potential clients, the other will be utilising a longer-term expertise and relationship-based approach.

The BD Ladder breaks the BD & marketing spectrum down into three core components which are: Opening game; Middle game; and End game.

The opening game is where law firms and lawyers need to pre-position to win the work. This is where building a brand, and your own personal brand, is of paramount importance. This is usually supported by writing articles, speaking at conferences or on webinars, and boosting lawyers’ social media profiles to give a few examples.  

The middle game is where you start to develop and build relationships. A lot of our work here focus’s on how lawyers can effectively talk to their clients when not actively engaged on a matter. We also spend a great deal of time coaching and mentoring lawyers to be able to get second meetings with prospective clients. We’ve found often, many lawyers get one meeting with a prospect and then it all goes quiet. We provide some simple techniques to help overcome this challenge. 

The end game is where the work is secured. Ideally, if the previous two stages have gone well, then this is simply the case of agreeing the scope and sending an engagement letter. However, in many cases a formal pitch or response to a Request For Proposal (RFP) is required. Having successfully led several legal and global pitch responses, we provide a full suite of bid management, writing and critical review and coaching services.

How has the pandemic crisis forced law firms to modernise and update their marketing policy?

As in all recessions, the smart law firms have adapted to the mood of the market. Most clients of law firms are keen to get true pieces of thought leadership and market intelligence. This is invaluable as law firms’ clients are adapting to the new normal.

Many firms scrambled to establish effective remote and secure ways of working initially, then rushed to communicate this with their clients and the wider market. This investment in technology has been speed up by the pandemic and the effective marketing strategies for this in the next 3 years or so, are at the top of many law firms’ agendas. 

There has understandably been an increase in focus on digital marketing, and the effective use of webinars. Many law firms are now showing a greater interest in things like SEO and Google Ads. It can be quite confusing for many firms, particularly smaller and boutique ones, which is why it is essential that they get advice early in the piece.

We’ve also noticed that those Partners and lawyers that have traditionally relied on networking events, have struggled and found it difficult to even engage with their existing client base. It is amazing what can be achieved when lawyers simply pick up the phone and check in on their clients, just to see how they are doing in the recession. If you haven’t called your clients in a while, if you just take one piece of advice from this article, I’d recommend you start calling them today.

Copyright © The Impact Lawyers. All rights reserved. This information or any part of it may not be copied or disseminated in any way or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of The Impact Lawyers. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of The Impact Lawyers.

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