BD considerations to strengthen the presence of law firms in the EU


Pieter Looijenga, account manager at LexisNexis InterAction, explores the business development considerations that help to strengthen the anchoring of law firms in the EU.

Many large UK law firms are opening of offices within the European Union after Brexit, because they are looking to protect their business, but perhaps also to take advantage of an opportunity to expand internationally. This trend is not unique to the legal sector. The UK financial services industry is moving in the same direction – the EY Financial Services BrexitTracker data shows that 43% of the companies surveyed have publicly declared the relocation of some of their UK activities to Europe.

As companies embark on their international expansion initiatives, a strategic business development (BD) approach will play a critical role in how quickly they can establish themselves in the region. Let’s take a look at some key considerations here.

“Should” versus “could”

At the risk of stating the obvious, commercial logic must prevail only over the pure aspiration or desire to develop in a new region. Do the following scenarios sound familiar to you? A partner returns from a visit to a country and on the basis of a first “good feeling” about the region, suggests a presence in the region. Or a company opens a new office in a particular city because the managing partner is based there. Or even, a new senior manager joins the company with language skills in a particular region, which potentially becomes a reason to establish a presence in a country.

It is a case of “should” versus “could”. An analysis of things like how many existing clients have offices in the country in question, could the firm expand its reach still based in the UK, is there good relationship with intermediaries in that jurisdiction and what type new skills and resources would be needed, is a good place to start. Likewise, what are the new perspectives in this region for which conflict checks should be carried out to determine if they are indeed organizations with which business could be done etc. should be undertaken.

An office for the love of the office

Sometimes companies, for purely marketing reasons, open offices in other jurisdictions as outposts, potentially in the mistaken belief that their “brand” and local presence will be enough to help them tap the market. So they rent office space, deploy systems, hire staff, and then expect the practice to thrive. Often they fail or accomplish little. Why? Since the office operates in isolation, there is virtually no sharing of knowledge and best practices with the parent company, no partners or lawyers are seconded to run and establish the business, and there is no there is no cultural basis.

To create a meaningful presence, companies should seek to standardize business processes by expanding the deployment of their current technology systems, including practice management, finance and accounting, marketing, Comics and CRM, at the new office. This will ensure that the new office is up and running, benefits from a structured and goal-oriented BD approach, including referral and pipeline management capabilities, targeted marketing campaigns, passive data management and Microsoft Outlook synchronization. , data sharing and compliance, and the list goes on.

If business expansion is through acquisition, the same approach applies – but with the added requirement of alignment (both operational and cultural) between the two organizations. CRM technology can again play an important role. The in-depth analysis of analyzes provided by the system, such as the strengths and weaknesses of client relationships across the combined network of the two firms, the engagement scores of lawyers and partners with key clients, and the reasons of the success and failure of past campaigns, will go a long way in helping to craft a compelling business strategy for growth.

A database of contacts, configured for multiple compliance regimes

With digital, remote and hybrid work formats are now the norm, an enterprise-wide CRM system hosting a single contact database is more essential than ever. It will provide a holistic 360-degree view of customers and prospects, which will help BD teams make connections across their network of influence and identify new opportunities – as they strive to achieve their goals. commercial growth for the region.

Of course, it is imperative to ensure compliance with the different privacy and data protection regimes in the EU, much of which can be integrated and automated in the company’s CRM system. However, a word of warning – generally the database administration team is responsible for applying the privacy and data protection policies to the contacts database in the CRM system. When expanding the CRM system to another geographic area, given the complexity and nuances of data protection regulations, tasking the database team with ensuring compliance is an important issue.

So ideally the regulatory element is best driven by the corporate compliance team, which is better equipped to ensure regulatory compliance, both globally and nationally. For example, data deletions and the right to be forgotten under GDPR may need to be applied automatically globally, while communications and mail preferences and opt-outs may need to be enforced at the global level. global and potentially regional. This approach will ensure that the new office’s BD efforts are not unduly crippled and, indeed, the value of enterprise-wide CRM best practices will not be lost.

Helped by technology, businesses have a good chance of success

A thoughtful and robust approach to comics will facilitate a healthy workbook from the start while allowing the team to regularly correct course. CRM technology can support such programs – right from the start of the idea – providing insight and insight to aid in the development and execution of a business strategy that meets tangible business goals.

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