Existing relationships between lawyers and their most profitable clients can be one of the best ways of bringing new business to a law firm — even if law firms may view sales as a “dirty word,” said business development executives at major Canadian firms.
“If you’re asking a client about a problem they have, and you’re making a reference to someone that can help them with that, that’s sales. I think there are a lot of sales that go on every day in a law firm,” said Bryan Frantz, client programs director at Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP, who spoke on a panel at a March 19 event in Toronto hosted by the Legal Marketing Association Eastern Canada Region. “It’s the dirty word that no one wants to talk about. You can call it business development; you can call it any number of things. To me, it’s a matter of having a relatively consistent strategy about how you’re doing that.”
While it can be tough to give every team the resources they want on a limited budget, it's less expensive to approach sales by using existing client work as a referral source, said Frantz. It’s also easier to get a larger share of existing clients than a new client because it reduces the chances of a business or legal conflict, said Nicolas Rubbo, senior national director of clients, markets and strategic planning at McCarthy Tétrault LLP.