Take your mind out of the gutter. The word I am talking about is Sales.
Over the last decade I have attended hundreds of law firm marketing seminars and conferences where the topic of sales is on the agenda. The theme is universally similar — Should law firms do it and, if so, how?
The subject of law firm sales always makes me smile. Given that — with the exception of the recent economic downtown — law firms have seen their revenues and profits rise exponentially over the last 20 years, I’m still surprised at the unwillingness of lawyers to acknowledge that selling is an inherent part of what they do.
As Weston Anson, author of “The Attorney’s Guide to the Business Mind,” states in his book — All business is selling:
“All economics is driven primarily by business and commercial interests. And all business is, indeed, driven by sales. Therefore, successful economics equals successful sales. This gross oversimplification does not gloss over a basic truth: that is, wihtout successful sales and marketing programs in place at all levels in any organization — from law firms to Procter & Gamble — planning is fundamentally unsound. Without strong sales and marketing, there is not a strong business base…”
As a licensed attorney, I have deep respect and admiration for the legal profession and the code of professional conduct that goes along with it. The world is changing and it is of great vital importance that we work to uphold the foundation on which the profession was built. But we should not fear the vocabulary. Being an ethical lawyer and recognizing that selling is an essential part of the business are not mutually exclusive.
The debate in firms should not be whether to do it or what to call it, it should be about how to do it in a way that allows lawyers to provide the highest standard of legal representation. But whether you call it marketing or business development or even what it is — sales — it is an essential part of the business of law.