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Pre-existing relationships — whether with clients, former colleagues or law school classmates — are every law firm’s number-one source for new client development. As large firms know firsthand, the strength of having a vast network is offset by the struggle to effectively search and access those relationships. Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton is a full-service Am Law 100 firm with 1,000 employees in nine U.S. offices. To support our business development and marketing efforts, we must be able to leverage our strong network of contacts and immediately identify everyone within our firm who has a valuable pre-existing relationship and can make an introduction.

In the past, to prepare for a prospect meeting, attorneys sent out an all-lawyer e-mail blast or walked the halls asking if anyone knew the company in question. We knew this approach did not fully leverage our firm’s relationship capital. Another common step was checking the CRM system. We have a very successful CRM implementation and one of the highest attorney-adoption rates, but a few lawyers choose not to participate, and others fall behind entering their contacts — even if their assistants are doing much of the work.

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