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Top 5 Takeaways From David Ackert’s State of CRM at Law Firms 2018 Study

Two Lawyers Analyzing a ReportThe usage of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology in the legal sector is growing rapidly. For firms in today’s economy to stay competitive, they need to create a single source of truth for all business development and client management within the firm. But in order to get the most business value from a CRM deployment, it’s important to stay informed of the latest best practices, trends, and innovation taking place in industry.

Fortunately, Ackert Inc. conducts an annual market-wide study on the State of CRM at Law Firms that highlights how law firms are using their CRM and other complimentary business systems to maximize business development, customer service, and marketing impact. From this study, new trends, opportunities, and challenges often emerge regarding CRM utilization, lawyer CRM adoption, data management, and more.

To help you easily identify those emerging patterns and opportunities, and what they mean for your law firm, check out our top five takeaways from the study down below.

#1 – Over three-quarters of law firms have a CRM in 2018

2018 marks an all-time high for CRM utilization at law firms with 77% of firms reporting that they have a CRM system.

 

Source: The State of CRM at Law Firms 2018

Firms using CRM have grown by 7% in 3 years time, but even more noticable, 100% of large law firms (over 700 lawyers) have a CRM, compared to only 44% of small law firms.

Source: The State of CRM at Law Firms 2018

Unsurprisingly, this pattern goes to show that the more relationships you have to manage, the more a CRM system becomes a necessary tool to store relationship information, contact details, and account activity.

The implication: As law firms grow in size, the need for a formal CRM system will also grow. Growing law firms can no longer afford to ignore the need for a centralized place to manage all the firm’s relationships. Smaller and mid-sized firms that choose to not adopt CRM in the near term will be at a serious competitive disadvantage. If marketing or business development budgets aren’t being set aside for CRM investment, they should be going into 2019.

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#2 – The number of law firms using CRM add-ons, enhancements, and augmentations is growing

With the majority of firms using CRM, it’s helpful to know which CRM solutions lead the pack among law firms. This is especially helpful for when you’re in the market for a new CRM system.

In 2017, InterAction or ContactEase were leaders in the market with 69% of firms using their software. However, 2018 has seen a dramatic shift, reducing that percentage to only 49%.

Source: The State of CRM at Law Firms 2018

Today, the landscape in CRM is shifting. There are more CRMs, more contact management platforms, and CRM automation tools taking up a greater share of the market, including platforms like our own Introhive suite, as well as HubSpot, OnePlace, and others.

This rise in CRM augmentation platforms (including Introhive’s relationship intelligence platform) indicates that firms struggling with user adoption or poor data quality are looking to enhance their CRM performance by integrating additional solutions like CRM automation or data enrichment services to their current technology stack.

The implication: To improve the usefulness of CRM, law firms are turning to additional tools and platforms to automate manual data entry and the cleaning of information in CRM. CRM automation, relationship intelligence, or data enrichment solutions that integrate with your system will be a growing trend in 2019.

#3 – Fewer lawyers are responsible for their contact data

Bad data is the silent killer of CRM success. Without accurate data in your CRM, the information quickly becomes useless to your lawyers, partners, and business development teams.

While this isn’t news, it is surprising that the Ackert Inc. study found that less than 9% of lawyers were responsible for their own data. As owners of key relationships and the source of most client interactions, lawyer ownership of CRM data has declined a significant 16% from 2017, which puts a significant amount of risk on firms that have invested heavily into CRM technology.

Source: The State of CRM at Law Firms 2018

This is a trend which firms should be concerned about in the present. More ownership has shifted to data stewardship internally at firms, but that model of data management doesn’t account for the tribal knowledge surrounding accounts and clients that the attorney or partner would own. Without that level of client intelligence being added to CRM, usage and adoption will continue to suffer.

The implication: Attorneys possess critical client knowledge that should live in CRM. Asking attorney’s to manually enter data or to transfer that knowledge to data stewards is not a sustainable model to drive quality CRM data practices., Alternatively, firms can now equip attorneys with tools to automate the collection of client information directly into CRM. For instance, Introhive enables attorneys with the ability to sync information, including contacts, accounts, tasks, notes, activities, and more directly from email to the firm’s CRM. This will increase the quality of your contact data without increasing the burden on your administrators or attorneys. Click here to learn how law firm Fenwick & West is automating this process for their 350+ attorneys.

#4 – The majority of lawyers do not use CRM for business development

According to the study, less than 5% of lawyers use CRM for business development at the majority of law firms (59%), leaving valuable opportunities for growth on the table. For a firm’s business development and marketing efforts to be successful, those teams need access to key account, contact, and lead data to help them run targeted campaigns. Without that key information, their efforts are destined to fall short of firm’s desired goals for new client growth.

Source: The State of CRM at Law Firms 2018

When used correctly, your CRM has the potential to accelerate sales, business development and help your lawyers develop stronger client and prospect relationships but most attorneys aren’t taking advantage of this potential.

The implication: Law firms that have invested into CRM, need help to increase user engagement and adoption of the technology. Firms that can effectively show the value to attorneys and partners will have a line of sight to greater adoption. But how? One way is to deliver key customer insights from CRM and other business systems directly to attorneys to help them grow stronger client relationships. For example, Introhive’s platform gathers client insights from CRM and other business systems (e.g. matter management, time and billing, company news, etc.) and delivers this intelligence in for the form of a Pre-Meeting Digest email. The Pre-Meeting reports help get attorneys up to speed on a client account before meetings and appointments right from email. There’s no need to log into CRM. All their client insights are right there in email for quick and easy access. Learn about Pre-Meeting here.

#5 – Culture, not technology, is the top barrier to CRM adoption

According to Ackert Inc.’s study, lawyers aren’t using CRM for several reasons including lack of accountability, not understanding the CRM’s value, they aren’t required to use it, and more. And it’s important to note the top six factors that contribute to low CRM use by lawyers is based on the culture of the firm, not the technology.

Source: The State of CRM at Law Firms 2018

The implication: To solve your CRM adoption problems, you need a CRM that fits within your company culture and works within your existing processes. You will struggle to drive CRM adoption if your attorneys are asked to increase their workload or modify their personal behavior to support technology. Automation can empower your workforce with solutions that eliminate time investment of entering data into CRM. Additionally, better information in CRM will lead to more on-demand insights to help partners and attorneys make smarter decisions to grow the firm.

What Does This All Mean for Your Law Firm?

If you have a CRM system in place at your firm, you’re already on the right track. However, this study has also surfaced opportunities for your firm to add more value to your CRM system and increase your CRM ROI.

For example, investing in data enrichment tools will save your firm from having to spend tens of thousands of dollars on data cleansing projects each year. And utilizing CRM data automation or relationship intelligence software will give your attorneys valuable time back in their day to spend with clients instead of manually entering and maintaining data.

To learn more about how you can take advantage of these opportunities, request a demo of Introhive.

For the full results, download Ackert Inc.’s complete State of CRM at Law Firms 2018 Study.