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Marketing "expert Witness" Services To Law Firms

Posted by Anonymous on 250 Points
I work for a Solid Waste Management consulting form and we want to be more proactive than we've been in the past in promoting our expert witness services to law firms. Up until now, 95% of our business comes from providing solid waste management consulting services to the public sector (mostly cities and counties). Once in a blue moon, we are contacted by a law firm working on a case related to our industry and we get an expert witness assignment. We have never been proactive in that area despite the fact that those assignments are very profitable and we want to change that.

I have a few ideas/tactics on how to approach that but any ideas and suggestions are welcome.

A few general questions are:

- anybody knows notification services that flag newly filed cases (similar to services that flag RFPs issued by cities/counties) so we can push our services early on in the game? Lexis-Nexis is the first that come to mind and I actually contacted them a while ago. They did not have an 'off-the-shelf' service doing that but they had some ideas on how to help us - we will pursue that. Any other ideas?
- any good publications/websites aimed at lawyers where it would be appropriate to advertise/list such services?
- any good convention/tradeshows where it would be appropriate to attend?
- generally, how do law firms find expert witnesses (especially in fields where they don't usually have lots of cases)?

Thanks in advance for your input!
  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    A neat concept, and probably quite marketable.

    What I would do is find a few partners at law firms in your area and ask THEM the question. In fact, they would be perfect because they either (a) handle those kinds of cases from time to time, or (b) know who does. And if it's neither, find out what THEY would do if a client came to them and asked for a referral to a firm that does handle these kinds of cases.

    Prepare well for the interviews with these folks. Have 5 or 6 high-gain questions ready and let them talk about how they would deal with the subject, where they would find experts, where and how you might advertise, etc.

    My guess is that you'll have some great marketing ideas after 8 or 10 of these interviews ... and perhaps some firms who will recommend you (or use your services) before too long. Just be sure you don't go in selling. That will probably turn them off. Just ask your questions, listen carefully to their responses, and take detailed notes.

    If you need someone to do the interviews for you, contact me via email. (Just click on my name and you'll find a profile that includes an email address.)

    This marketing project sounds quite do-able and will probably generate plenty of consulting gigs as an expert witness. (We've done dozens of small-scale qualitative studies like this, and they always seem to generate more good ideas than anyone expects going-in.)
  • Posted by Pepper Blue on Accepted
    Hi Francois,

    Lawyers time is of course valuable, but the one thing everybody has to do during the work day at one time or another is eat/drink or least take a long break.

    For lawyers this presents the perfect opportunity to do a "lunch and learn". This is when you arrange for the lawyers within a practice group of a firm that deal with litigation issue involving solid waste /disposable to meet with you during lunch and speak to them for no more than 30 minutes.

    What you will find is that most of them will just arrange to have you stop by for their regular practice group meeting. This way you won't even have to buy lunch, because they will already have arranged to have it catered in.

    I know from experience this works and is really one of the only way you are going to get their attention. At hourly rates north of $300 an hour, odds of getting their time in any other way than during an already firm scheduled lunch are going to be slim.

    Work this through the group administrative assistant, they will have such a person that coordinates and is responsible for these group practice meetings.
  • Posted by steven.alker on Accepted
    Hi Francois

    We have a couple of models of this kind of service up and running which are very effective – I’d like to share some of the ideas from our end of the business – that’s CRM – or in this case, as you are trawling for business, it’s PRM, Prospect Relationship Management. One day, I’ll copyright that- or LRM, Lawyer Relationship Management!

    I’ve got little to add about the marketing pitch you need to make or the sales pitch required to bring firms on board as clients. Mgoodman and pepper blue have made some very important points, especially about talking to the lawyers to refine your case and the importance of time to a lawyer. The latter related to the way in which we have developed some e-commerce models with companies which sell services to law firms. They are almost effortless in respect of the lawyer’s input and as a consequence, the “Knowledge Transaction” does not attract a substantial cost consequence to the legal eagles. What they bill for it is therefore very profitable to them, which in turn makes it attractive as a bought in service.

    You do however have a major job on your hands persuading them of the legitimacy of your information and your ability to provide it, but that’s the job of developing your product, understanding your market requirements and convincing the lawyers that you are up to the job.

    Firstly, as you are not a member of the legal profession, I think that you are in the wrong place to look for the cases for which you might be able to provide a service. That’s the lawyer’s job. You don’t want to be chasing after every unexpectedly toxic dump, migrating landfill gas site, or polluted waterway incident. Let them come to you and ask you to advise them on cases. The only way to do this is to make damn sure that you are well known to every law firm which might take an interest in waste litigation. That’s every practice involved in land and property. And if injury is involved, that adds up to most practices.

    Secondly, and lucky for you, Law firms are a “defined universe” in marketing terms. That means that they are listed, in detail by their regulatory body and you can get hold of that list. It may even be purchasable in your locality (France? UK? States?), in a format where you can whack it straight into a CRM system. Once you have established the product you are going to offer (mgoodman’s advice) then that’s your direct marketing management taken care of!

    As this is a defined universe, this is one occasion where a telephone follow-up after mailing your prospect base is a must. You need to get these guys to sign up to your service and signing up can be free. Expect to make your profits when they come to you for your services.

    Thirdly, you’ve got to make this painless! I won’t talk about any of our clients, but one guy took my ideas and went away and implemented them himself (Poor salesmanship on my part – I gave too much away!) so I’ll use him as an example, especially as it took him about a 12 times longer to get the mechanics right than we would have taken. He had developed database of contaminated land and was selling information to solicitors involved in property transactions. Basically, they could ask his company to look up any problems associated with a commercial property from its postcode. The services offered were from off the shelf reports of contaminants to advice on the cost of remedial action. Now I don’t know if you have an intellectual asset which you can use in this way, but you will get the core of the argument from the example.

    We proposed ditching the systems he had in place (They were tortuous and unmanageable, requiring over 12 actions to be carried out by his staff and at least 5 by the solicitors to get the desired information delivered and billed for) So here’s the model for the contaminated land database:

    All solicitors are sold to on the concept that you have a valuable and viable service to offer. They sign up and have an internet log-on to your advisory service.

    When they have a case, they log onto their access portal, chose the service they want, and in this case, enter the Zip-Code for the property in question.

    The CRM system consults the contaminants database, converting a Zip-Code into a map reference and extracts the associated data.

    The data is incorporated into a relevant report and if it’s a simple, factual one, it is then sent back to the lawyer. By email and by letter or by fax as these guys didn’t like legal documents by email only. Or if it required interpretation or further work; the basic report went to a consultant who would carry out the instructions on the original order from the web portal.

    The CRM system would generate a bill via the accounts package and the relevant invoice would be enclosed with the report.

    I recognise of course that what you are proposing is more complex than that, but if your company has a knowledge base, law firms will pay for access and a CRM system is capable of interrogating it. The more you can codify the product you have to offer, the more the lawyers can define what they initially want via the internet.

    If their case is complex, then obviously only the beginning and the end of this process are handled by the software, the rest is interaction between your staff and those of the law firm, but the model, from having your entire market (Lawyers) on a database through to billing from the same system remains valid. If you are fortunate enough to have an intellectual asset (Such as the contaminated land information) on a database as well, you have a very cost efficient system.

    A similar model works for expert medical witnesses used by law firms acting for insurance companies. Again the market place is a database of claims lawyers and insurance companies (Two sides of the same coin!) and the asset is a database of medical practitioners prepared to give evidence in a claim for a fee. The added value is in that it is managed by people who can interpret the case information and match it to a specialist. (The software actually does that, but it had to be set up by doctors and managed by them) The data held (temporarily) is that of the claimants. The fee is for putting them all together and the CRM system does it in a cost effective manner.

    Making such a system work is more involved than it sounds, so if you decide to go down that route and would like any help, please do give me a call.

    Steve Alker
    Unimax Solutions

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