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Guest Editorial: Marketing in a CEE Law Firm

Guest Editorial: Marketing in a CEE Law Firm

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I have always been a fan of marketing and felt that there was something special about it, even back before I had any real practical experience with it. My career started at an international law firm – Hogan Lovells – where marketing was handled both centrally and locally. I became a fan of the field and learned to consider the brand as something potentially very valuable and helpful both in attracting new clients and employees and in retaining existing ones. It also showed me that marketing activities must be conducted systematically.

When I joined Rowan Legal in 2014, it was clear that the firm was great at systematic work with existing clients and at deepening relationships. At the same time, there was potential for building on that, especially in the area of core marketing. In short order, we hired an internal marketing team, launched a new website, started systematic work with social and traditional media, and developed quite a few other things. Now what still lies ahead is mainly the unpopular standardization of processes and their improvement to lower the capacity required of fee earners for some tasks. Most importantly though, we will be working on combining marketing and business development to make sure that we use them both to their full potential.

What I really like about marketing is that it allows me to know the firm as a whole in quite some detail, including major cases and topics from areas I do not specialize in. That then helps me with my own business development activities, including international outreach. There are, of course, things I would prefer to avoid – there is not much fun to be found in administrative activities such as keeping and updating databases and records, though of course they are crucial for presenting the firm with the best and most accurate data. And there certainly are things which I would now do differently – from the faster implementation of changes and a unified approach across the firm from the outset, to the more careful selection of some vendors. What is important though, is that our past mistakes have led to improvements in how we do things.

Of course, in addition to the downs, there have also been many ups. One of the best was the building of our dedicated data protection practice between 2014 and 2019. We fortunately recognized the topic very early, identified important international associations and became members of them to obtain top know-how, and then organized conferences and published articles and commentaries, and so on, leveraging this expertise. We became the most visible Czech firm in this field – the amount of marketing activity was enormous, and it was effectively followed by business development activities. This was a big investment, but the returns were impressive – during 2017 and 2018, the resulting volume of incoming business far exceeded our expectations. Currently, we see great potential in social media. Content is said to be king, and that is what we pursue in all our formats, from written articles to interactive webinars. One of our recent activities in that field, aimed primarily at law students, was a series of practical webinars called Unique Law, which we organized together with the Czech Republic’s PRK Partners and TDPA law firms.

Overall, I am very optimistic about the role of marketing in law firms in CEE – it is clear that not only the big firms, but perhaps even more the new and rising players in the region recognize its importance. There are a few challenges, though, likely to affect legal marketers and BD people in the region. These may materialize especially if a longer and deeper crisis unfolds. Law firms will be under pressure to lower their hourly rates to keep or increase their share in the declining market. As we have seen in the past, the decrease and dumping of hourly rates can be very damaging to the legal market as a whole and has lasting effects. This applies especially to the Czech Republic, where the hourly rates are the lowest in the region. I hope that the legal industry will be able to withstand that pressure, but it will surely be a challenge.

Marketing as such has undoubtedly been most impacted recently by limited personal contact. The current restrictions make it quite difficult to meet in person for legal breakfasts, seminars, conferences, and so on. Everything is moving online, but the value of marketing and business development online tools are still, at least for now, lower than onsite events. After all, this is a people business.

By Michal Nulicek, Partner, Rowan Legal

This Article was originally published in Issue 7.9 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.

Czech Republic Knowledge Partner

PRK Partners, one of the leading Central European law firms, has been helping clients achieve their business objectives almost 30 years. Our team of lawyers, based in our Prague, Ostrava, and Bratislava offices, has a unique knowledge of Czech and Slovak law and of the business environment. Our lawyers studied at top law schools in the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland and elsewhere. They also have experience working for leading international and domestic law firms in a number of jurisdictions. We speak your language, too. Our legal team is fluent in more than 15 languages, including all the key languages of the region.

PRK Partners has one of the most experienced legal teams on the market. We are consistently rated as one of the leading law firms in the region. We have received many significant honours and awards for our work. We represent the interests of international clients operating in the Czech Republic in an efficient way, combining local knowledge with an understanding of their global requirements in a business-friendly approach. We are one of the largest law firms in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Our specialised teams of lawyers and tax advisors advise major global corporations as well as local companies. We provide comprehensive legal advice drawing on our profound knowledge of local law and markets.

Our legal advice delivers tangible results – as proven by our strong track record. We are the only Czech member firm of Lex Mundi, the world's leading network of independent law firms. As one of the leading law firms in the region, we have received many national and international awards, in some cases several years in a row. Honours include the Chambers Europe Award for Excellence, The Lawyer and Czech and Slovak Law Firm of the Year. Thanks to our close cooperation with leading international law firms and strong local players, we can serve clients in multiple jurisdictions around the globe. Our strong network means that we can meet your needs, wherever you do business.

PRK Partners has been repeatedly voted among the most socially responsible firms in the category of small and mid-sized firms and was awarded the bronze certificate at the annual TOP Responsible Firm of the Year Awards.

Our work is not only “business”: we have participated on a longstanding basis in a wide variety of pro bono projects and supported our partners from the non-profit sector (Kaplicky Centre Endowment Fund, Tereza Maxová Foundation, Czech Donors Forum, etc.).

Firm's website: www.prkpartners.com

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