Q&A with Walter Offers, Business Development Consultant based in Amsterdam

By Mariah Rossi

What is the right strategic approach when it comes to how to market legal services to clients in a highly competitive and over-saturated environment?  The GC Grapevine spoke with Walter Offers International Law Firm NautaDutilh’s Senior Business Development Manager on the topic of what law firms must do to stand out and attract clients.

What can be improved in law firm’s business development and how has it evolved?

Law firm professionals need to be in sync with their firm’s strategic plan to focus on key clients and markets.

Law firms knew they needed to mature their firm’s business model. In the past, lawyers did not consider BD in the long run; rather they hastily pursued opportunities that were of no strategic importance, just because they were available.

Now, firms understand that client satisfaction drives ROI and they pursue clients in areas where they have comparative advantage. This has caused their satisfaction ratings to improve, clients to become more loyal, and the firms’ position to improve. Clients invite firms to become business partners, law firms just needed to be able to execute this properly.

How do Business Development Experts shape law firm’s BD strategy in an effective way?

BD consultants understand how to translate strategy into the daily routines of lawyers. We create a dashboard with measurable BD activities to be their daily agenda. With focussed energy, business development is no longer an afterthought.

We also push measuring client satisfaction constantly. As stated before ROI is driven by client satisfaction, so it is imperative that firms actually keep track of this figure. If it is low then a firm needs to take responsibility and act on that.

What about innovative business development, the new buzz?

Many law firms, despite recognizing the potential of the technology, are reluctant to invest in CRM solutions and continue to utilize outdated manual systems to meet the bulk of their marketing and business development needs.  There are many different BD applications available that provide client and sector trends, data, analysis and ultimately centralize client relationship intelligence, making it accessible and actionable firm-wide, so you can leverage your firm’s relationships and grow. In terms of process, Lawyers are learning to better meet the needs of their client’s by becoming business minded instead of solely case oriented. People respond to incentives and making a Lawyer’s business development contributions measurable holds them accountable. Innovation is becoming responsive and proactive in the legal sector. Now lawyers are as savvy in business as they are in the court room.