Lawyers dislike change. They resist the new, whether it’s an application upgrade or submitting time by deadline. Firms must be creative about change management. 

Another good example is customer relationship management software (CRM). Many law firm managers say “CRM is the most widely licensed but least used software in large firms.”

Firms hope CRM will provide central contact tracking; some aspire to actual relationship management. But most fail with both. The barriers include not wanting to share contacts, no time to enter data, and “nothing in it for me.”

Some firms, however, do succeed where others fail. For example, Sutherland Asbill is serious about CRM. One key element is a champion. Gail Hageman is a full-time marketing technology specialist and, more importantly, she’s been at the firm a while and has long-standing relationships with many lawyers.

Sutherland also provides incentives. They required lawyers to enter contacts in the CRM to obtain client holiday cards. Lawyers wanted cards, so they began sharing contacts. The firm wanted to track business development. They required describing prospect meetings in the CRM before reimbursing expenses. Lawyers wanted their money, so they started putting information in the system.

Hageman reports that the combination of institutional will and specific actions has achieved high lawyer compliance with the CRM – and provided the firm with a very valuable resource for its marketing efforts.