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Consequences when a law department markets its services

The most compelling reason for a law department to tell clients about its services is to fulfill its role – to help the business succeed and reduce legal risks. So preventive law training programs may have the effect of marketing but the purpose of role-accomplishment (See my post of April 13, 2006 about Phillips and anti-trust training.). There can be other consequences when a law department tells managers of its capabilities and services (See my posts of Aug. 1, 2006 on second-order consequences and Aug. 28, 2005 on unintended consequences.).

Marketing can raise or lower client satisfaction. Raised scores derive from client appreciation for what the law department offers. Lowered scores result when client expectations rise but performance does not match (See my post of Nov. 21, 2005 on satisfaction surveys raising expectations.).

Marketing is aimed to build public relations and good feeling. Newsletters by law departments invariably tout the successes of the department (See my post of Sept. 4, 2006 about them.).

Marketing serves the law department’s professionals’ need to attract interesting work. If clients appreciate that you know how to improve a complicated sub-lease, your real estate lawyers will get more work or get it sooner, and therefore be more professionally fulfilled (See my post of Oct. 18, 2005 on lawyers not wanting only challenging problems.).

When clients understand what the law department can do, the workflow may even out and the overall quality of work coming in may rise. Clients will know how best to use the department and when they can act on their own (See my post of Sept. 14, 2005 on the self-service model.).

These secondary effects of departmental promotion are admirable. To accomplish the department’s mission, to increase the quality of work, to boost the department’s reputation and to increase client satisfaction, all make complete sense. The downside is that marketing may increase workload and amounts paid outside counsel (See my post of May 10, 2006 about the tension between self-promotion and additional work.).

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