The Intersection of Sales and Law: Innovative Firms Lead the Way

The Intersection of Sales and Law: Innovative Firms Lead the Way

By Neel Lilani
December 14, 2023 | 4-minute read
Business Development Sales and Networking Techniques Article Additional Options Content Level: Essential
Business of Law
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In the often stoic world of big law, a new trend is making waves. Innovative law firms are introducing a game-changing element: strategic sales. An effective sales team allows progressive firms to generate new client opportunities from the networks and initiatives of non-practitioners who are deeply embedded in target industries — a far cry from the historic “build it and they will come” approach employed by the legal community for decades. The shift is centered around three main objectives: capturing new clients, strengthening ties with current ones and establishing a solid brand voice — all buttressed by building an adept sales team tailored for the legal world.

On the Hunt: Capturing New Clients

In today's tech-driven world, relying solely on reputation doesn't guarantee success. Law firms are recognizing this and taking a proactive approach. Sales teams — with their market insights and keen sense of tech challenges — are actively seeking out potential clients. Whether it's a startup navigating intellectual property issues or a technology behemoth addressing regulatory concerns, these sales professionals ensure they're right in the middle of the action, often by maintaining a strong presence at tech events and hubs.

Beyond the First Handshake: Strengthening Client Bonds

For sales teams at law firms, an engagement doesn't end once a client signs. Instead, it marks the beginning of a deeper relationship. Law firm sales professionals continuously seek ways to enhance the value they bring, often going beyond standard legal services — whether it’s strategic guidance on financing or connecting with others in the market. Regular communication becomes key, allowing the firm to align with client goals and anticipate their needs. Feedback — integral in sales but sometimes sidelined in the legal realm — takes center stage, ensuring the firm stays responsive and relevant.

Not Just a Name: Crafting a Powerful Brand

There's more to sales than numbers and engagements, and a pivotal part of a sales role lies in shaping the firm's brand. Through varied interactions, sales personnel act as brand advocates, echoing the firm’s ethos in different settings. Their presence, whether at large technology conferences or informal industry meetups, reinforces the firm's standing in the market. By forming strategic alliances with technology centers, educational institutions, advisory firms and industry groups, the firm’s brand presence receives a significant boost.

The Right Fit: Building a Sales Team for the Legal Landscape

Identifying, recruiting and retaining a sales team tailored for the unique environment of a large law firm requires a nuanced approach. Unlike conventional sales roles, these professionals must navigate the intricacies of the legal world, making their recruitment a more meticulous process. The most impactful teams have significant industry connectivity, a strong understanding of law firm economics and are proficient in persuasively communicating what makes their firm unique in the competitive landscape. Additionally, leveraging sales eams as providers of value-add services (i.e. helping connect clients to market opportunities, sources of capital and others in the ecosystem) further distinguishes a firm and demonstrates a commitment to helping their clients achieve commercial success.

Identifying the Right Talent

The ideal candidates are proficient in sales and have a deep appreciation for the legal landscape. They should demonstrate the ability to grasp complex legal issues and translate them into actionable sales strategies.

Recruiting With Precision

When bringing these talents, firms should focus on showcasing their commitment to innovation, offering clear growth paths and illustrating how sales intertwine with the firm's broader mission. Prospective sales professionals must see the unique value proposition of working within a legal environment, setting it apart from conventional sales roles.

Retaining and Nurturing

Given the distinct challenges of merging sales with law, firms must prioritize continuous training and align sales strategies with evolving legal trends. Open communication, regular feedback sessions and a clear understanding of their pivotal role in the firm's growth trajectory can ensure these professionals feel valued and integrated, reducing turnover and fostering long-term commitment.

Setting a New Direction

Incorporating sales into the operations of a law firm is no small feat. It demands a break from conventional norms and an embrace of novel strategies. As this blend becomes more common, innovative law firms leveraging sales tactics aren't just adapting to change — they're shaping the future trajectory of the legal industry.

Neel Lilani
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

As global head of Orrick's global corporate development efforts for technology companies, Neel Lilani drives new client opportunities through coordinated strategies across the sector. He has always been fascinated with technology’s ability to shape the way we live, work, think and play.

At Orrick, Lilani is able to help technology entrepreneurs and investors capitalize on their innovative vision. To do so, he leverages his global network of companies, investors and entrepreneurs to identify fundraising and commercial opportunities, and advise on financing and business strategy. He can also connect clients with precise legal help to meet their specific needs.

Lilani is a graduate of Suffolk University Law School (JD/MBA, international business). He has served in senior strategy roles at some of the world’s leading law firms and Fortune 500 companies.