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In Law Firms and Accounting, Business Development and Marketing Take Hardest Hit from COVID-19, According to Global LexisNexis InterAction Survey

Law firms and accounting and financial services (A&FS) firms both took big hits to their business development and sales efforts due to the Covid-19 pandemic with new strategies and more effort required to win new business, according to the 2021 InterAction Marketing & Business Development Survey of law and A&FS firms. This is the first year LexisNexis InterAction produced a separate report for accounting firms in addition to the annual law firm report.

Managing people and business development/sales were the two categories of work in law firms and A&FS firms that have taken the hardest hit from the pandemic; nearly two-thirds of organizations responding to the survey report they have struggled in these areas. Not surprisingly, an overwhelming majority of firms said that marketing and business development strategies have changed significantly over the past year. With the switch to digital outreach – eight out of the top ten marketing techniques used by firms were digital – firms have also found new challenges to their success. The top challenge to marketing effectiveness cited by both law firms and A&FS firms is data quality.

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“The Covid-19 pandemic exposed business development and marketing strengths and weaknesses across every industry, but it also sheds some light on how law and accounting and financial services firms can improve,” said Brendan Nelson, General Manager of LexisNexis Software Solutions. “As technology adoption continues to help firms better capture, manage, and gain insights from their valuable data they can adopt a holistic and strategic approach to business development that will successfully drive firm growth.”

The value of metrics and data in delivering successful marketing and business development programs surfaced in both surveys, but there were key differences in firms’ abilities to use this data to drive more effective strategies. Law firms that saw high growth in 2020 were four times more likely to use tracking metrics for marketing and business development efforts, however A&FS firms struggled across the board with only 11.2% of firms indicating they were highly satisfied with their ability to track performance.

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“While 2020 presented many unique challenges, both law firms and A&FS firms are learning from those challenges to grow their firms to new levels,” said Scott Winter, Director of Product Development, InterAction. “While these two sectors will direct their spending in different areas, their plans reflect the recognition that leveraging data-driven insights is an important way to facilitate a more systematic approach to business development.”

Key findings from the study:

  • Pandemic-related issues were the top challenge for 51% of law firms and 42% of A&FS firms.
  • 54% of high-growth firms experienced a positive impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. The same could be said for only 11% of no-growth firms.
  • High growth firms are investing more in marketing and business development. High growth law firms project an increase of 38%. High growth A&FS firms spent an average of 15.5% of revenue on marketing, which was almost three times more than other firms.
  • When it comes to marketing/BD investment, A&FS and law firms differ greatly. Law firms will heavily invest in their firm’s website, CRM, and training for lawyers, whereas A&FA firms will direct investments to social media and email marketing in addition to CRM.

Survey responses were collected for the period Q4 2020 through Q1 2021. In the survey of law firms, responses came from 168 law firms, with AmLaw 200, Global 1000, and mid-size firms (100-499 employees) leading the way at 36% of all survey participants. Firms with 500 or more employees were also well-represented in the survey, comprising more than 27% of the total. Survey responses from A&FS firms came from 154 professionals were surveyed with 14 titles represented from many regions around the globe, and from many job levels within the sector.

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