Why webinars work for (some) lawyers

Law firms are running webinars when they can’t do business development face-to-face. The switch from face-to-face seems as natural as restaurants switching from dine-in to takeout in a lockdown. However, many law firms are finding they’re not getting the client work they hoped for from the transition to webinars for law firms.

If your firm isn’t seeing the results other firms are achieving from their webinars, here are some likely reasons…

1. Webinar invitations that get “lost” in clients’ inboxes

Law firm BDs are seasoned fighters for clients’ attention. However, some of their weapons of differentiation are locked away for now. Law firms can’t compete for clients’ time with more interesting venues, better networking opportunities, superior food and drink…

Law firms have to rely more than ever on the content on offer. That content has to be positioned attractively from the first words the client reads about your webinar.

If no one has shown you how to grab a client’s attention with the subject line of your email, your invitation is likely to be lost in the mail.

2. Technology paralysis

More than one law firm client has told me their firm is stalled with the choice of webinar technology. There’s a cupboardful of options for video conferencing and webinars. In the last week , I’ve met law firm clients on Zoom, WebEx, BlueJeans and Microsoft Teams.

However, the technology is not the point. When it comes to getting webinar sign-ups and attendance, clients aren’t going to come (or not come) because your webinar is on Zoom, not BlueJeans.

While you’re paralysed over platform choice, other firms forge ahead.

3. Confusing legal topics with webinar titles

Law firms hold webinars because there’s a topic they want to talk about. Ideally, they believe there’s client work in that topic. However, your webinar topic shouldn’t be your webinar title.

Say, the topic of a practice group’s webinar is the impact of exchange control rules on share options or how a crisis creates opportunities for employee misconduct. Those might be fantastic topics for the right clients, but neither of those things should be the title of your webinar.

Like writing a subject line that gets an email invitation opened, understanding how to turn a webinar topic into a title and description that gets ideal clients turning up takes training.

4. Relying on webinar tips from the internet

On the internet, anything can be reduced to seven tips. (Fun game: try searching “7 tips for ____”, e.g. for parenting, for succeeding in business, or even for practising law.)

Google 7 tips for running a webinar and the first page of results will give you tips like:

  1. “Use mind mapping to brainstorm ideas.” (Zapier)

  2. “Pay attention to the sound.” (eLearning Industry)

  3. “Know your attendees.” (Search Engine Journal)

  4. “Deliver incredible content.” (Entrepreneur.com]

  5. “Manage questions strategically.” (Copyblogger)

  6. “Settle on a specific idea.” (WordStream)

  7. “Promote the webinar in advance.” (WebFX)

This is all solid advice, even if some of it is, well, duh. However, if you’re hoping your webinar is going to lead to work from discerning clients, don’t you think your webinar needs more going on behind the scenes than “have a good mic”?

5. Lawyers are natural teachers, which is a liability in webinars

Lawyers study hard to get where they are — working for good grades in high school, hitting the books at university, more studying for admission, then keeping up the learning with CLEs.

The downside of exposure to all that study is that lawyers naturally switch into teaching when they run webinars.

But webinars shouldn’t be how-tos. Webinars should be why-tos.

Lawyers don’t have sell in a webinar like they’re trying to shift ab crunchers. However, what good is it going to do the firm when your clients leave your webinar thanking you for teaching them how to do something for themselves?

You want your clients leaving your webinar thanking you for the information… and thanking you for showing them that they need to talk to you immediately about what you can do for them.

Showing your clients the why and not the how means everything to the success of your webinar. And doing it in a way that leads to client work can be learned.

How to run a law firm webinar that brings in client work

Above all, one difference stands out between law firms that win work from webinars and firms that don’t. The firms that win work from webinars know there’s more to running a business development webinar than writing a PowerPoint and turning on the webcam.

These firms invest in training lawyers and business development teams to work together to produce and promote work-winning webinars. The work-winning firms know it’s unfair to set an expectation of results only to leave their fee earners and BD teams on their own with a WebEx login and a page of tips culled from Google.

The firms that are achieving their goals with webinars support their teams to succeed in getting that work. They recognise the skills in writing and promoting webinars are new, and the competition is fierce.

If your firm wants to win work from webinars that clients feel lucky to be invited to, check out our webinar training for law firms. One BDM at a global law firm called it the “MBA of webinar training”.