This article is written by Jaya Vats from Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, Delhi. In this article, the author discusses the emerging online professional legal marketing.
India is the second-largest country in terms of population and third most rapidly developing country. It is a major player in the Asian economy. The marketing of legal services as a profession in India, at least, is largely unheard of. The legal market of the country remains the domain of domestic full-service companies, many of which operate on a conventional, family-run model. In recent years, the Indian law market has been deliberately volatile. The legal profession in India is one of the last sectors in which international players remain closed. This is becoming more complicated with new companies increasing and extending their scope globally. Marketing professionals must also take into account all the elements required to create a cohesive strategy based on core practices such as content marketing, social media marketing, and PR. The trends continue today; sophisticated law firms have discovered that experts and consultants are needed to support them with their campaigns. They are also recruiting experts. Such experts help create structured marketing strategies and execute plans for sales, customer management, and brand creation.
What is professional legal marketing
Professional legal marketing is a broad term for the advertisement of clients and other activities, such as customer relations, public relations, and networking. The legal marketing concept typically includes business growth practices and attempts to attract more customers, thus growing revenue. Professional marketing is one of the most difficult tasks in the legal sector due to the existing legal structure. Rule 36 of the Rules of the Bar Council of India laid down a legal limit on the advertisement of work on-line. Namely, there are five things a lawyer is permitted to advertise, i.e. Business name, address, telephone number, and email Id, registration information, areas of operation, and qualifications.
Basic principles of marketing
The growing company operates with customer assistance, and legal online marketing helps to find customers as it improves the brand position. Brands are not limited to newsletters or business cards and to winning marketing awards, but with many unturned aspects. A basic approach will apply to any law firm. One should primarily have a simple picture of the business.
The key to marketing is communication. Make sure what people want to know about you is your talents, your experience, your staff, etc. There must be a goal that online marketing strives to accomplish like having a simple and responsive website that can be activated by bots to provide instant answers. The app should be mobile and device-friendly. It should not be difficult to locate the law firm or lawyer, and the visibility online should be significant. The website or the management of social media should not be dull or unattractive. It will be appealing and designer-looking.
Marketing should not be too reliant or haphazard on a single process. It should be strategic and should be based on tests based on data. The distinction between approaches, methods, and plans is also included. You need all three as an advocacy organization.
Strategies are long-term strategies and techniques are short-term tools and methods for achieving the goals. More general techniques, while more common tactics are. You intend to execute your plans and methods to achieve your objectives. Evolution persists in today’s modern world. Law firms hire experts and seek help from professionals to assist them in the field of marketing and to develop strategies, business development, and brand building. Leaders’ views of legal marketing are changing day by day. India remains in a closed legal market and does not officially apply. They will also implement revolutionary strategies to reach out to their prospects.
Three key areas can concern the growth of the marketing firm in the field of law and these are:
- Set the vision or goal: to set up a vision or goal a domestic practice should be grown concentrating on a particular practice area (e.g. tax or IP) or by entering a new city or state (e.g. Gujarat, Bangalore). Unfolding from a full-service firm to a boutique or cross-selling to existing clients ensuring more repeat business.
- Development of businesses: In those days, the Indian firm was more than enough to have a good lawyer and a decent legal profession to survive and expand. However, in recent heights, business development strategies are mandatory to survive and perform better. Senior associates have a responsibility to take on a bunch of business or a law firm can even hire a marketing firm to represent their law firm in front of clients and to protect their professional business, which opens up the opportunity to generate new leads.
- Management of client relationships: The customer was treated differently when the demand ratio is more than the supply. However, in recent times clients have had more opportunities and therefore have a strong customer relationship with law firms or lawyers. The three methodologies you can use to pull your customers are here and these are as follows:
- Use an innovative marketing strategy: The market is dynamic and businesses know that they have different shopping opportunities. As the West starts responding to the call to end hourly rates and look at alternate tax and value-added arrangements, the East too will soon have to look into that.
- Provide customer-driven advice: Be personalized and provide the answer for the customer instead of partly replying to them. Professional lawyers who help and advise customers to generate more clients.
- Bulletproofing your customers: Ask customers regarding their needs. Management of customer relations includes detailed strategies. Leading law firms must be at the forefront of recognizing or changing their marketplaces and should inspire all attorneys, not just to get work together but to also boost client service.
Marketing challenges in the legal profession
Based on strict industrial laws, creating a strong brand for your law firms in India is not an easy task. The law firm has to face up to business pressures to reach its customers. Like almost everyone, the way legal companies of all sizes operate, with several opportunities but also challenges, is changing new emerging trends. The legal industry is facing some of the most common issues and challenges.
- Law competition opening for India: A significant point of discussion was the imminent opening of India’s legal market; the government is pushing vigorously towards liberalization. Some of the concerns about liberalization include worries that law firms will have the same fate as the accounting firms in the region. Alliances would also result in losing references. Alliances with foreign counterparts.
- Alternative models of billing: The pressure to rein in legal costs has forced law firms to deviate from the traditional billable-hour model in favour of new alternative billing models such as fixed, flat, blended, or capped fees. To foster long-term relationships and maximize value, more law firms are embracing alternative billing as a means of meeting the needs of cost-conscious clients.
- Talent retention: Hundreds of thousands of lawyers are thrown into the system every year, but it is most often a struggle to find skilled lawyers with the right qualifications and willingness to work.
- Age of super specialization: It has become time-consuming to focus on niche areas of practice that alternative service providers are unable to address. This is more likely to keep up with the demands of new industries emerging from the business market.
- Marketplaces for legal service: Slowly, market outlets for legal services are gaining ground by offering customers more cost-effective solutions. This could lead to the legal industry being reshaped. The online revolution has seen a host of online legal portals supported by private equity (PE) and venture capital funds with high pockets. The start-up community and other cost-conscious customers are constantly turning away from old, high-tech legal professionals and firms into technology-led solutions and it is time that customers in the upper classes used this service.
- Rule of law: While the principle of the rule of law is embedded in our constitution, it can be perceived as backdoor entries by international law firms who disregard their legal fraternity themselves.
Awareness of risks, timely responsiveness, and agility are key to overcoming many of the challenges and issues. Agility needs an overall awareness of particular problems and challenges, and the development of strategies to minimize their impact, by evolving processes, structures, and practices.
Difficulties and restrictions in the business development
Lawyers in India are forbidden by the Advocates Act 1961 and by the Indian Bar Council rules from advertising their practice. This is because the profession is noble and such publicity is unreasonable. In general terms, advertising aims to increase knowledge and competition among dealers of similar commodities that only ensures better quality and better service for customers. It’s because of the general view that people asked, “Is it a feasible idea for this modern age to ban the advertisement of legal professionals in India? Despite these doubts, the ban on advertising rights for legal professionals in India had been inevitable following the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) after the Second World War. In the light of the above, the following are the laws prohibiting advertising for legal professionals in India and their implications, taking into account the position of such laws in other developed countries based on WTO rules and globalization, and the need to do away with such age-old laws.
The courts, however, agreed with the Bar Council’s view and followed the rules developed by the Advertising Council. The Supreme Court in the case of Bar Council of India v. M. V. Dhabolkar held that “law is not trade, not briefs, not merchandise, and therefore the skies of commercial competition should not vulgarize the legal profession.” Following its functions referred to in Section 7(1)(b) of the Advocates Act, 1961 the Bar Council of India read with its powers to lay down rules under Section 49(1)(c) of the Rules of Procedure of the Bar Council of India according to Section IV(Duty to Colleagues) of Chapter II of Part IV). In compliance with its duties referred to in Section 7(1)(b) of the Advocates Act, the Bar Council of India read with its authority to lay down rules under Section 49(1)(c) of the Rules of Procedure of the Bar Council of India.
Rule 36 which specifies that a lawyer shall not apply for work or advertise, either explicitly or indirectly, whether through circulars, ads, bills, personal correspondence, interviews not justified by personal connections, the furnishing or inspiration of newspaper comments or the creation of photographs to be published in connection with cases with which he or she has been engaged or involved and any other restrictions. The “Rule 36” of the Indian Bar Council Rules forbids publicity advocates. This is usually viewed in compliance with Article 19 of the Constitution for India, against fundamental rights. While this Law can not be questioned concerning Article 19(1)(a) i.e. freedom of speech and expression, as in the case of Bates v. Arizona State Bar, in the case of Hamdard Dawakhana v. Union Of India in the case of the Indian Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled in this case against Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India that an advertisement for the selling of such pharmaceuticals should be prohibited.
Opportunities in legal marketing
We have seen an increase in the number of lawyers who are not attorneys that have an influence on the procurement and sales of legal services in the past 10 years. The number of lawyers who are not lawyers has increased. It includes new actors, legal marketers, and legal operations/provisioning, on both sides of the equation.
- Purchasers and sellers: Although the chief legal officer, general counsel, or an executive usually has the ultimate decision-making function for legal services purchases, those new players have a leading position in influencing these decisions. There are two areas in which buyers and sellers-professional legal professionals and legal marketers can work together for the benefit of both sides.
- Exchange of data: Legal services buyers and sellers recognize that there is room for better data and knowledge exchange.
- Cross-sales: Law firms constantly seek ways for their services to be cross-sold. Historically, this was left to the relationship manager to pursue it by persuading the general counsel to consider the firm to work in additional areas of practice. Although this is still a choice, legal transactions/acquisitions may also play important roles in the cross-selling process today.
- Collaboration Platforms: Creating client-based roles focused on developing new business has been a trend in legal marketing. Some professionals have a deep knowledge of the firm or a specific practice area and are asked to develop opportunities for the firm to generate revenue.
In terms of legal and regulatory changes, India is experiencing a wave of transition. For many places and sectors, this has undoubtedly generated new ways to open up new innovative business opportunities. The key to success lies in extremely specializing in one of the core areas of practice. It might happen that, even after doing everything right, social networking engagement or website viewing is not high. It’s nothing to be disappointed about, but it’s about generating new potential ideas to get clients and patience because this success can’t be quantified. Marketing tactics like social media, various marketing methods and more are involved. However, visibility is the first thing a law firm requires Indian marketing. Place it well frequently and refresh it, which is an integral aspect of branding. The marketing law firm is a new world in India, and so one should act to compete.
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