Anam Khan has a focus on diversified roles in the legal industry which includes both conventional and unconventional career paths — specifically dispute resolution, corporate law, and intrapreneur roles. She consults law firms and legal start-ups on business development and marketing-related roles. In this interview with Asia Law Portal, Anam details her practice and provides background about her role as a consultant. Anam aspires to blend her dedication to law with her passion for marketing and business development, contributing significantly to the legal industry’s evolution.

Why did you focus your career on legal marketing and business development? 

I have always been drawn to unconventional paths and multitasking roles, favouring opportunities that allow me to express creativity and take on unique challenges. This inclination dates back to my school days when I actively engaged in extracurricular activities that demanded leadership and creativity. My roles have surrounded a mix of knowledge, creativity, and leadership throughout my career journey. A defining moment was when I co-founded Law Chronicles during my transition into law school. Alongside my friend Akshit, we swiftly built this platform to aid aspiring law students.

Within just six months, our Telegram channel attracted an impressive following of 1,500 organic followers. The experience of constructing everything from scratch – the website, creatives, ebooks, and more – was genuinely satisfying. After a year, we paused both efforts to delve into new prospects within the legal field. My exploration led me to LinkedIn, where I delved into diverse roles beyond conventional legal paths and found an answer to whether I can utilise my creative skills in the legal field too and explored how exactly partners bring business to law firms. I encountered fascinating opportunities such as legal marketing, business development, and legal design, ultimately compelling me to immerse myself further in this domain.

Though initially daunting, I undertook internships in legal startups to grasp the true essence of these distinct roles. Assisting founders across a spectrum of small and substantial tasks unveiled the core objectives behind each role. My dedication paid off, earning me my first paid project due to the work I showcased. With growing confidence, I began to do extensive research in this domain alongside my legal career. Job descriptions posted on law firms and startup websites provided valuable insights into the expectations for these roles. Initially, I secured short-term referrals and collaborative projects with fellow team members.

As I started sharing my insights on LinkedIn, I witnessed organic growth in my client base.  My journey has been welcoming conventional and unconventional paths, building from scratch, and continuously learning from experience. It’s through this process that I’ve discovered my passion for multifaceted roles and innovative approaches in the legal field.

Tell us about your experience in legal marketing and business development.

It has been almost three years of my journey in this field. During this time, I undertook internships that delved into legal marketing roles, collaborating with organizations like The Leaflet, Prolawgue, YLCC and various NGOs, which gave me great experience. Additionally, I explored business development roles through internships with Legal League Consulting, PSL Advocates & Solicitors, HSA Advocates, Naxcent, World Law Dailog and World Law Forum. As an independent consultant, I have been engaged in numerous short-term and long-term projects across diverse domains within the legal sector. I partnered with practising professionals, boutique law firms, legal tech startups, and legal ed-tech startups, and even collaborated with a YouTuber boasting over 1 million subscribers.

I’ve had the privilege to work alongside one of the VPs of Smart Cube and one of the top business development lawyers in the Asia-Pacific region. Within these roles, my responsibilities encompassed a wide array of tasks. This included tasks such as conducting international industry analysis of countries like Germany and Singapore, website development and upkeep, marketing and branding, thought leadership, generating visibility audit reports, managing legal directory submissions, crafting visuals, B2B outreach, personality management, opportunity assessments, go-to-market strategy and more. My experience until now has provided me with a comprehensive skill set across various aspects of the legal field and there is still a lot to be explored.

From your experience and observation, what is the current state of legal marketing and business development careers in India?

From my experience and observations, the current landscape of legal marketing and business development (BD) careers in India presents some distinctive dynamics. In India, unconventional roles like these are not yet widely recognized as prominent career paths, as the top 30 law firms in India still have structured and unstructured BD departments. I’ve conversed with various business development professionals and founders from Magic Circle and smaller law firms, and they echoed a common sentiment.

There’s room for improvement in this role in India, especially compared to its stature abroad. In line with global trends, like in the US, many firms are creating new titles such as CSO, CMO, COO, CIO, and CXO. In this evolving field, there’s a noticeable difference in culture and positioning as compared to international standards. Due to the relatively new nature of these positions in India, the corporate world’s growth trajectory within law firms seems to progress at a moderate pace and decision-making authority is still lacking within this role. However, the novelty of this field in India also brings immense potential and promising opportunities for future growth.

Considering the contemporary emphasis on visibility and competitive advantage for startups and law firms, there’s a substantial demand for these services. Nonetheless, the extent of demand depends on the roles one takes on and the specific responsibilities assumed, closely aligned with the targeted audience. In essence, while there’s room for advancement in legal marketing and business development, the path forward holds promise, driven by the changing needs and perspectives of the Indian legal industry.

What are the best strategies for generating clients for law firms and startups?

The strategies for generating clients for law firms and startups can be categorized into established and tailor-made approaches driven by insightful data. Traditional methods are still applicable where despite the virtual setting, networking events held at firm and industry levels still establish new contacts and bring a high ROI. When discussing new approaches to push marketing, a conventional yet impactful strategy involves sharing information while gathering valuable analytics on reader engagement. This enhances visibility and nurtures potential leads.

Concurrently, harnessing the potential of LinkedIn strategically adds another dimension to client generation. Lead generation and demand generation strategies come to the forefront to address specific legal needs. These encompass crafting Google-ranking blog posts, leveraging social media advertising, hosting engaging events, producing educational video series, podcasting, and co-hosting informative webinars with relevant industry bodies. Ensuring a strong online presence involves meticulous reputation management. This entails securing press coverage, legal directory submissions, optimizing search engines, and maintaining well-structured team profiles to get a consistent brand image. At the same time, shaping a powerful brand identity extends to website design, resonant content, and impactful social media messaging. Such a brand-building journey is crucial for sustained growth.

Capitalizing on client feedback enhances their experience and fuels valuable referrals – a cornerstone in the word-of-mouth nature of the legal landscape. A strategic move involves offering valuable resources in exchange for initial contact details, creating a foundation for nurturing potential leads. Identifying services that deliver tangible client value rooted in the firm’s strengths is pivotal in the broader scope. This involves comprehending the distinct needs of the target clients for these services. These strategies merge well-established methods with innovative, personalized approaches. They revolve around understanding client needs, cultivating a robust brand presence, and fostering authentic connections, all contributing to a dynamic landscape of client generation in the legal domain.

Are there any technologies you believe are most helpful to law firm business development or practice management?

Technology is a catalyst for transformative change in both law firm business development and practice management. In this context, certain technologies emerge as particularly impactful, but it all depends on the kind of requirement and budget a particular organization has.  Case management software stands out for its ability to streamline case lifecycles, enhancing collaboration and reducing errors.

Billing and tracking software automates financial processes, ensuring accuracy and transparency in client communication. Document management and automation software optimise document handling, boosting productivity and compliance. Furthermore, integrating mapping software with advanced Excel features elevates data visualization and informed decision-making. These technologies collectively pave the way for an enhanced, adaptable, and efficient future in law firm operations and business growth.

What, if any, impact do you believe AI will have on content writing for the legal field?

I see the potential for AI to make a noteworthy impact on content writing, although its influence might not be overwhelming. While AI-generated content holds promise, it can’t replace the need for human involvement. Legal content demands personalisation, thorough research, and an understanding of intricate legal nuances. How content is framed holds immense significance, potentially affecting outcomes.

That being said, AI can undoubtedly streamline certain aspects of our work. It can assist in structuring write-ups, offering summaries and key points, simplifying content for newsletters and campaigns, copywriting, and generating content ideas. These tasks, which are less critical and less reliant on deep professional insights, are where AI can excel. Speaking from my experience as a regular user of AI platforms, I’ve observed how it has eased various tasks for marketers and legal professionals. It’s about balancing AI’s capabilities and the irreplaceable human touch in content writing.

What should foreign law firms be most aware of in terms of business development and marketing practices when considering entering the Indian legal market?

When considering entering the Indian legal market, foreign law firms must be particularly aware of the distinctive aspects of business development and marketing practices in India. One crucial factor is how law firms position themselves in India differs significantly from foreign practices. It’s essential to recognize the specific constraints imposed by the BCI regarding advertising and marketing, where direct solicitations are not allowed. In India, the legal profession is considered a noble profession with high professionalism at every step. Given the crowded nature of the legal market, standing out requires strategic expertise.

Establishing a distinct specialisation can significantly impact business development strategies. Going with a market strategy can create a huge impact. Still, it will depend on a case-to-case basis whether to go exclusive as an Individual firm or go with many firms to establish tangible contacts. When considering success in the Indian legal market, a forward-looking strategy is fundamental. Whether through client relationships, referral arrangements, India desks, or outsourcing, the chosen approach should seamlessly align with the firm’s strengths and intended focus. Community engagement through avenues like law student lectures, pro-bono work, and industry associations can foster accessibility.  As India has recently opened its doors to the legal industry for some jurisdictions, arbitration could be a huge area that can be captured and focused on.

Hiring local talent would go a long way toward getting a sense of the Indian market.  Undoubtedly, showcasing commitment to India holds great significance. For tailoring resources, active participation in relevant forums, and contributions to India-centric journals all amplify visibility and underscore dedication. Adapting to these nuances sincerely and adopting a long-term strategy are pivotal steps for foreign law firms aiming for success in the Indian legal landscape.

What are your hopes for your future career progression? 

My career aspirations are centered around my passion for roles that involve diverse tasks. I’ve consistently embraced various responsibilities, combining hardcore law and Business Development. Recognizing the pivotal role of business acquisition, I believe excelling in both soft skills and technical proficiency is key – much like the multifaceted role of a law firm partner. While law is my dedicated profession, Marketing and BD hold a special place in my journey. Simultaneously, my vision includes serving as a legal counsel while contributing administratively to a growing law firm.

This approach taps into the wealth of resources established firms offer, while my affinity for substantial responsibilities aligns with a founder’s mindset. In an exciting development, I’m preparing to launch a comprehensive resource platform catering to marketing and Business Development tasks. This endeavor aims to bridge gaps in research and resources within this dynamic field. Ultimately, my trajectory merges my commitment to law with my passion for Marketing and BD, forging a harmonious path where I contribute to the growth and success of the legal industry purposefully.

Posted by Asia Law Portal

A forum for discussion of news, information & opportunity in the Asia-Pacific legal markets.

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