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Back in April of this year, when I started to think about announcing The Fifth-Anniversary MLF 50, I tossed and turned about whether, in these challenging times for law firms, there might be anything to talk about. I am happy to say that there is, and the great news is that what is going on in firms with active marketing and communications departments is quite remarkable. The big difference is that the programs being created and implemented are all tied to business development. Even in the branding corridors, business development is the catalyst and that’s as it should be.

Yes, we all have been reading about the layoffs, the push-back dates on incoming classes of associates, and the administrative cuts. The good news here is that law firms have finally figured it out — they are businesses and in order to prosper, they need to market themselves and communicate in a way that nurtures and protects their existing client base while constantly seeking out new business opportunities. While the billable hour has always been the business model for firms, it is now less about billable hours and more about keeping the existing clients happy and “bargaining” for new business. At long last, marketing and communications can take center stage and become the key indicator by which law firms can measure their success ratio.

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