A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

Australian law firms need to rethink their content strategy

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

by Craig Badings, Director, Cannings Corporate Communications

The way Australian law firms present their content and insights haven’t changed much over the past 10 years.  While there are some that have produced some impressive thought leadership reports, many are stuck in a content production time warp that is boring clients and prospects.  

There is still place for some of the ‘old’ content but one look at other professional services firms and it’s clear that those who choose to stick with their current content model will quickly become content dinosaurs. We live in a content-rich, insights driven world and those not playing this game run the risk of being seen as stuffy and lacking in innovation and original thought.

Are you a content dinosaur or are you building eminence?

Thought leadership has been used very successfully for over 15 years by professional services firms, such as management consultancies, to build eminence. It is the sharp edge of their marketing efforts.  It is all about nurturing clients and opening new doors. And it is about enabling client facing employees -- partners, senior associates and BDMs -- to engage with prospects and clients in a way that showcases a deeper understanding than their competitors of particular client/sector issues or challenges. 

Good thought leadership content breaks the mental myopia on a subject, issue or business challenge.  It stimulates the curiosity gap, forcing people to adjust the way they process or filter information on that topic and challenging them to see the issue differently. Get your content to do this and you will position the firm/practice area as ‘go to’ experts in that area.

I conducted some research on the topic of thought leadership a few years ago with a number of leading Australian law firms and the common theme for not undertaking thought leadership was a lack of planning time, resources and the expertise to do it properly. Other reasons included: 
  • partners concerned about cross practice or client versus government competing interests
  • a reluctance for partners or the firm to stick their necks out
  • a perception they were giving away intellectual property
  • a lack of evidence of the benefits.

Examples of great thought leadership content

A recent on-line, desktop analysis of some of the magic circle and other international firms indicated some refreshing thought leadership content trends. 
  • Linklaters – display a range of thought leadership reports on trends and hot topics across their home page including: the outlook for  life insurance in Europe, the most attractive emerging markets for the food and beverage multinationals and developments in the Eurozone and how these will impact corporate risk to mention a few.

  • Freshfields – displays a range of “Insights” - discussion papers on topics such as: Crisis Management; Growth in high risk markets; Reports into the African oil and gas markets; Cyber security; and Key themes in Global Anti-trust in 2013. They also have a ‘Knowledge and Insights’ tab which has a superbly listed range of papers and briefings across a wide range of topics.
  • Clifford Chance  - big, bold scrolling content blocks across the front page covering topics like: the internationalization of the Renminbi and the European M&A market (in conjunction with the Economist Intelligence Unit), etc.  They also have an impressive webinar series covering numerous topics which feature panel discussions and interviews with third parties.

  • Allen & Overy - prominently displayed scrolling content blocks across the home page covering a variety of topics and a ‘Publications’ tab with numerous reports as  well as a tab only clients can access.  They also have an excellent knowledge search area by topic, country or practice area.
  • Skadden – Their Insights 2013 flagship publication is on their home page. It is a collection of commentaries on the critical legal issues facing their clients in 2013 and covers seven topic areas including capital markets, financial regulation, global litigation, global M&A, governance and regulatory issues.
  • Baker & Mckenzie - large, scrolling title blocks on their home page with different reports on things like: Clean Energy in Africa; the links between high growth markets; private equity insights; high growth markets such as the BRICS; and, riding the ASEAN elephant, to mention a few.  
The purpose of this content is to open doors to clients and prospects in order to stimulate conversation and debate. What these firms do with the content behind closed doors with their prospects and clients is where the time and effort of producing truly thought leading content really proves its worth.

About our Guest Blogger

Craig BadingsCraig Badings is a director at Sydney-based, Cannings Corporate Communications

He is also the co-founder of Leading Thought.  

Join him on LinkedIn and on Twitter at @Leadthought

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