Four Strategic Benefits for Law Firms that Conduct External Data Surveys

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Despite the prevalence of data-research surveys sponsored by law firms, little has been written about their strategic value.  This article lays out a four-part framework of benefit based on the demand for legal services among clients and prospective clients — the market.  In summary, data-research surveys by law firms can:

  • Reach your market,
  • Gauge the size of your market,
  • Grow your market, and
  • Explain your market. 

Every year law firms sponsor dozens of online surveys to collect data regarding companies — data-research surveys. We have found more than 300 of them extending back as far as 1995, and undoubtedly many more were conducted during that 23-year period. 

External research surveys have different characteristics than intra-firm surveys, such as those that assess morale or technological savvy, or substantive surveys across some legal field, such as those that compile the laws in all 50 states about phone-tapping or report recent transactions of a certain kind.  True, all surveys share methodological and analytic characteristics, but external data-research surveys fundamentally aim to gather from companies' numeric data that interests executives and managers.

Partners in law firms, whether they lead individual offices, practice groups, countries, or the entire firm, will think more strategically about the value of surveys if they appreciate their short- and long-term advantages.  Out-of-pocket costs are modest but benefits are major.  Furthermore, understanding the benefits will help marketing, pricing, practice support, and knowledge management professionals in law firms. 

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