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Jim Ries, Director of Business Development, Offit Kurman

As part of our ongoing blog series, Pugh & Tiller PR is interviewing business leaders and sharing their insights on the impact of COVID-19 on marketing and business plans. Today’s post features fellow Baltimorean, Jim​ Ries, Director of Business Development, Offit Kurman.

Adjusting Marketing during COVID-19?

What I think is most interesting about our firm, and a differentiator for us, is that we’re very entrepreneurial, progressive, and business-like. Our attorneys are trusted business advisors who happen to have law degrees. While we’re not cold-hearted, we’re also not bashful about the fact that we see opportunities coming out of crisis.

Law firms are like other businesses in that there are firms that were strong going into the pandemic and will be strong on the other side, and those that aren’t solid may struggle. Some law firms are just not going to make it.  But Offit Kurman is solid, and we know that in the financial crisis of 2008, we grew significantly because other firms failed. Offit Kurman is a great landing pad for those attorneys, particularly those we refer to as, “partner-level attorneys” with books of portable business.

Client Base Mobility

Many people may not know that, in the law firm industry, there are no non-competes. Attorneys can take clients with them when moving to a new firm. The clients must simply sign a waiver stating that they understand they can remain with the firm or go with that attorney.

There are many excellent attorneys out there with great clients right in our wheelhouse, which consists of small and mid-size owner-managed businesses from Charlotte, NC, up to NYC.

Actively Recruiting New Attorneys

This may be surprising, but we’re full steam ahead in the attorney recruiting process. Our recruitment process involves several internal recruiters along with regional interviewers in all five of our geographic regions, and we work with legal recruiters. We also get the word out when talking to clients. Personally, I talk to business owners and centers of influence all the time, and one thing I like to talk about is our current attorney recruiting process. As Director of Business Development, my main role is to acquire new clients to the firm, but I’m also now very focused on recruiting attorneys.

Changes to the Pursuit of New Clients?

I’m now able to touch more people in a day, however those touches are all virtual via phone, webinar, or video conference. It’s not like seeing them in person. It’s quantity over quality. I’m able to reach plenty of people with Zoom and webinars, but it’s not the same as being in front of them.

Marketing with Empathy

We’re also continuing our normal marketing behaviors in pursuit of new clients. We see it as a time to get closer to our clients and prospects. If there’s a word that’s come out of this whole thing it’s empathy. Our focus has been on our clients and prospects – the business owners. How are they doing? How are they feeling? How’s their family? The focus is not on us. We’re also giving away a lot of free advice. We believe clients and prospects will remember how they were treated, and how we made them feel.

Impacts of Reduced Face Time?

I like to focus on relationships, and I previously had tremendous face time with clients and prospects. I’m curious and interested, and I ask many questions. I have a background in business, I spent 31 years in my family’s business and ran it for our final 10 years.  But, of course, business owners are no longer so open to having people visit, take a tour, and meet for conversation in the conference room.

Despite the current challenges, we’ve had two strong quarters so far in 2020. Most people I’m talking to are working harder to do the same amount of business as before. In general, business owners are in survival mode and it’s tough to get their attention.

Sharing Helpful Content

In business development, it’s important to keep my name out there, which increases the odds of being in the right place at the right time. I post content on various platforms such as Java With Jim and LinkedIn.

The relevant topics include networking, centers of influence, how to work events, follow up, and how to keep track of clients and prospects. I also post the following specific themes:

  • Monday motivation
  • Movie clips
  • Legal tips
  • Business quotes
  • CannaBits (information pertaining to our cannabis law practice group)

Virtual Education and Networking

I’ve had many opportunities to present to associations and membership groups such as chambers of commerce on topics like virtual networking. I also run monthly virtual events where I bring in guest speakers and business owners. Some events are educational, others social and some are a combination. They’ve all been well received. I intend to continue holding virtual meetings and events into the future because they’re an efficient use of time.

Re-Opening Offices?

We’re not in any haste to get back into the office. We’re following federal, state, and local mandates in our return to work policies. As a law firm, our approach has been very strict and conservative. People are back in the office on a voluntary basis only and must first submit a request and await approval. Our offices will never look the same as before. We’ll have smaller footprints and different layouts.

About Offit Kurman

Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing full-service law firms in the United States. With offices in seven states and the District of Columbia, Offit Kurman is well-positioned to meet the legal needs of dynamic businesses and the individuals who own and operate them. For over 30 years, the firm has represented privately held companies and families of wealth throughout their business life cycles.

Pugh & Tiller

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