Law Firm Marketing in 2018 - LMA Tech West Q&A with Ryan King

by JD Supra Perspectives

[The second in a Q&A series featuring LMA members, how they see the market today, and how LMA Tech West keeps them at the top of the pack.]

Ryan King, Director of Communications at Ogletree Deakins, is excited about the state of legal marketing technology. He predicts 2018 will be the year for strategic content, continuing investment in content and related technology, and increasing sophistication in how firms deliver content and technology to clients.

Q: Tell me what 2017 was like for you.

A: I saw a spike in adoption rate almost everywhere I looked. Many firms are buying in right now, whether that’s in content, new mediums, marketing automation, or an immersive digital and website experience. We’re experimenting and, in most cases, it’s working. People understand that engagement is the name of game; it’s not just followers and likes.

Firms continue to move beyond vanity metrics and focus on engagement metrics. Firms are learning that engagement is easier to uncover, track, and measure. This has them moving more to digital marketing, using acquisition, conversion, and retention strategies that create metrics and produce meaningful business intelligence.

I feel like marketers, their firms and attorneys, all “get it” and have moved from basic, 100-level tactics and graduated to 200-level, 300-level material and thought. We’re far from mature, but I’m seeing progression in many places across the Am Law 100 and 200. I must give big kudos to LMA for seeing this, too, and creating its Marketing Technology SIG. 

Q: Are you seeing increased investment in content and marketing, and particularly in martech (marketing technology)?

A: Yes, most definitely. More firms are investing in proprietary services and reports. Firms either sense or see that their bread and butter work is continuing to be squeezed by factors like rate pressure, alternative legal service providers, and/or work going in-house. They are investing in technologies to stem this tide and enable themselves to create and deliver more value.

Firms can then focus more definitively on enhancing their ability to pursue and retain higher rate work and minimize the risks on the types of work that may be considered more of a commodity. Firms are working more with tools, including predictive analytics, AI, and business intelligence research tools. Firms are seeing the value proposition in martech, more so now than ever before. They realize they can enhance how they produce value for their clients by investing in technology.

Q: What does this mean for law firm marketers?

A: It emboldens us. It’s incredibly exciting! We’re rapidly moving into territory we’ve long admired and that many professionals outside of legal have experienced for years. It creates an entirely new realm where we can market. It strengthens our brands, bolsters what we can deliver to our firms, and will create an entirely new generation of law firm marketers.    

Q: What do you see on the content side?

A: Firms are developing content strategies much more frequently and are effectively targeting buyers with solutions to specific issues. They are focusing their content development by owning certain issues, creating subtopics, and dominating those issues by showcasing their knowledge and solutions.

They are smarter about content velocity, meaning they are not producing copious amounts of content, but only what’s necessary and, most importantly, valuable. A spray-and-pray approach still exists in our marketplace, but it is much more refined now, as firms adopt niche practices and see the benefits of strategically producing niche content. A terrific example is firms that produce reports around a specific issue, along with related, supporting content. 

Q: What about digital marketing?

A: Firms have become more receptive to digital marketing tactics, but there are a handful of firms leading the pack. Prospects will research your firm and its attorneys online some 6-7 times before they include your firm in a pitch or RFP. Your content should live in places where those buyers will see it, and firms should be smart about where they publish it.

Anything in the digital realm can be measured, and marketers as a whole, I hope, are ecstatic about this...

Anything in the digital realm can be measured, and marketers as a whole, I hope, are ecstatic about this. Digital marketing is transformational for legal marketers and law firms. A strong understanding of digital marketing helps us to be more proactive and strategic. When lawyers see that we understand how digital marketing impacts the business, they will let us in even more. 

Q: Are we entering a possible golden age for legal marketing?

A: So many things point to “yes,” and I sincerely hope so. Marketers are better positioned to drive revenue for their firms, through innovative campaigns, new technology, and the continued, dramatic rise of alternative legal service providers. Digital marketing tactics and service providers enable us to be much more proactive and strategic. We have a strong and deepening collection of thought leaders in this space who are performing cutting-edge work. I want to recognize our pioneers who have been in this space for some time. Your contributions are paying off, and we’re very thankful for that! I’m excited for 2018!  


Ryan King leads a workshop at LMA Tech West on Jan. 31, “How to Use Technology to Leverage Content Within an Integrated Communications Strategy.” Find more conference information and registration here. Ryan can be reached by email at and on Twitter, @RyanATL

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