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Leaner firms focus on cost-cutting

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As founder of AGL Associates, Arthur G. Levin provides consulting services to law firms and the vendors that sell to them. BtoB recently spoke with Levin, a 30-year veteran of law firm administration, about legal industry trends and best practices for marketing to attorneys. BtoB: What industry trends are affecting the way marketers target an audience of lawyers? Levin: This whole economic situation affected many, many law firms. Larger law firms had their first real downturn in earnings in many years, and a lot of partners and associates who thought they had lifetime employment with large firms all of a sudden found themselves laid off. Firms had to look at the way they do everything, and what's come out of that is a much leaner type of firm, with more emphasis on the business of running the law firm. That's helped a lot as far as clients are concerned because lawyers now understand more about how the clients have to run their business, where profits and cutting costs are really important. The billing has changed in a lot of law firms; lawyers are a lot more cognizant of how they bill clients because clients are a lot more sophisticated about it and a lot more cautious about how they pay their firms. There has been an upsurge in breakaway law firms. A lot of lawyers with the big firms went out on their own or went to smaller firms figuring they'd have more control over their own destiny by doing so. BtoB: Are any media channels particularly popular or effective in reaching this audience now? Levin: A lot of things are happening with social media. A lot of contact that's being made by people trying to sell to law firms is happening through social media. There's less face-to-face with your potential client. [That change requires marketers to use] a different set of skills and a much higher degree of closing skills once you do meet with those clients. People now have a very limited amount of time to meet, so when you go in to sell and close, you have to do it very well and very quickly. ... People want to make their decisions quickly. They want high quality and low price—and to get on to something else. —M.E.M.
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