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Law Firms Still Not Relating to Client Relations Management Software

Incredibly, many law firms simply can't relate to the importance of client relations management (CRM) software, according to this article by Andrew Burger, one of today's top stories at CRM Buyer.  As Burger puts it:

The legal profession is all about relationships, so CRM systems would seem a natural fit in a law-firm setting, right? Sure, but many don't bother implementing CRM systems because they would require a significant change in the way firms are run.

Most CRM vendors can't understand why law firms haven't implemented CRM as effectively as other businesses -- particularly given that most firms already assiduously track data about clients and their matters for conflicts checking and billing.  One CRM vendor quoted in the article expressed some frustration that "a continuous stream of potentially valuable CRM information flows through the typical law firm on a daily basis, yet lawyers and their firms typically are not able to leverage it."

Burger identifies at least two reasons for law firms' ineffective CRM systems.  First, in other businesses, CRM is typically used for generating sales leads, whereas for law firms, the value of CRM is to help build and enhance relationships.  Thus, some CRM programs require tweaks to make them more compatible with law firms' needs.

But the larger barrier to integration of CRM is institutional: Most lawyers simply aren't willing to take the time (or sacrifice the billable hours) to input critical data.  Then, when CRM fails due to lack of lawyer commitment, lawyers blame the software and subsequently grow even more resistant to CRM efforts.

There's only one measure that I can think of that would force lawyers to implement CRM, and that is for clients to demand it.  And clients may do just that -- after all, many corporate clients probably use CRM systems themselves.  Moreover, CRM can help lawyers serve clients more efficiently and effectively by providing a central database of contact information and a history of client communications. 

Lawyers may not realize that CRM can help them generate more clients and more business.  Fair enough.  But when lawyers begin to lose clients because they reinvent the wheel or commit some gaffe in a situation where CRM would have prevented them from doing so, they'll have no choice but to get with the program.   

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 24, 2008 at 02:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

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