Make thought-leadership marketing and business development content a catalyst for your law firm’s cross-selling efforts.


If you’re a lawyer at a law firm with more than one practice group and you have a book of business or you’re building a book of business, there’s a good chance you’ve been encouraged by your colleagues to cross-sell the firm’s services.

They will want you to talk up to your clients your law firm’s legal practices outside of your own so that your clients will know your law firm can help them with legal issues outside of the ones you have been helping them with already.

While that seems conceptually obvious and a cinch to pull off, apparently it is not. You don’t have to dig too hard to find articles online about the difficulties partners and senior associates have cross-selling, and the difficulties law firms have building a consistent and effective cross-selling program.

If you’re in that boat, or you are unsure about how to get your cross-selling efforts going, thought-leadership marketing and business development content can be a catalyst for your cross-selling efforts.

Thought-leadership content can do this by helping you identify how your law firm can tackle your clients’ legal problems with a cross-disciplinary approach, and then presenting this approach to your clients through insightful, compelling content.

Identifying cross-selling opportunities

Here’s a ridiculously easy way to identify cross-selling opportunities.

Image a Venn diagram with two circles.

The circle on the left is your clients’ legal issues that you help them with.

The circle on the right is one of your firm’s practice groups other than yours.

The overlap in the middle will be areas where your law firm could help your clients with their legal issues beyond your own practice group. That’s where there is an opportunity to cross-sell and an opening to create thought-leadership content around that opportunity.

But how do you know how your firm could help your clients with legal issues outside of the ones you are already helping them with? By talking to your clients about the legal issues they’re facing or that are weighing on them.

Once you know what legal issues your clients are wrestling with, you can look at each of your firm’s practice groups to determine if they have the ability to help your client with those issues.

In other words, you can repeat the Venn diagram exercise until you’ve ran through all of your firm’s practice groups.

For example, let’s say you are a litigator with a focus on litigating intellectual property disputes. You are the person your clients turn to when they need help protecting their intellectual property.

You know your clients often face IP issues during transactions. If you have colleagues with a corporate practice focused on mergers and acquisitions, they could provide guidance to your clients about managing IP issues during transactions. This would be the overlap in your Venn diagram between the work you currently do for your clients and your colleagues’ corporate practice. You could focus your cross-selling efforts here.

Here’s another example. Let’s say you are a lawyer specializing in administrative law who helps your clients manage their relationships with the administrative agencies that regulate them.

You know some of the issues you help your clients with tend to find their way, down the road, into private litigation brought against your clients by aggressive plaintiffs’ lawyers. Your litigation colleagues could provide guidance to your clients about litigating private lawsuits that arise out of regulatory issues.

Again, this would be the overlap in your Venn diagram and an area in which you could focus your cross-selling efforts.

Crafting thought-leadership marketing and business development content focused on cross-selling opportunities

After thinking about your clients’ legal issues and the combination of services your law firm can provide to help them with those issues—i.e., the overlap in our Venn diagrams—it’s time to actually create thought-leadership marketing and business development content around these combinations of services.

This content may come in many forms, including blog posts, bylined articles for industry publications, client alerts, podcast episodes, videos, and white papers.

Whatever form this thought-leadership content takes, in order to be effective, it must show your clients that you and your law firm have a variety of legal practices that, TOGETHER, can help them solve their legal issues efficiently and effectively.

But because you have done, and will continue to do, the work necessary to determine the kinds of legal issues your clients are dealing with that your law firm can help them with, you will be able to frequently go to your clients and explain, through cross-selling-focused thought-leadership content, ways your firm can help them that they may not have been cognizant of. You will be cross-selling your firm’s services in a more palatable, less over-the-top manner.

Then, each time you or your colleagues create a new piece of cross-selling-focused content, you will have the opportunity to have real-time sales—oops, sorry, I mean “business development”—conversations with your clients about the substance of that piece of content. The conversations would cover how your firm, through a cross-disciplinary approach alluded to in that content, can help those clients with their legal issues.

A better way for law firms to cross-sell

Cross-selling at law firms is apparently not an easy thing to do.

But a strategic program focused on identifying and presenting to clients cross-selling opportunities in the form of thought-leadership marketing and business development content can make cross-selling a whole lot easier for lawyers and law firms to wrap their arms around.

It can also make those efforts a whole lot more fruitful.

Wayne Pollock, a former Am Law 50 senior litigation associate, is the founder of Copo Strategies, a legal services and communications firm, and the Law Firm Editorial Service, a content strategy and ghostwriting service for lawyers and their law firms. The Law Firm Editorial Service sets free the knowledge and wisdom trapped inside Big Law and boutique law firm partners by collaborating with them to strategize and ethically ghostwrite book-of-business-building marketing and business development content.

Thinking about bringing on an outside writer to help your law firm strategize and create cross-selling-focused marketing and business development content? Click here to schedule a 30-minute Content Strategy Audit to learn if collaborating with an outside writer is the right move for you and your firm.