Case Study – Allen Matkins

Steve TyndallCase Studies

Allen Matkins – Built on Relationships

Any lawyer worth their salt knows that relationships are the beating heart of any successful legal enterprise. Without a reliable stream of clients and referrers, even the most capable of firms can struggle to stay afloat. However, in the fast evolving landscape of legal services, securing and maintaining a loyal client base is a growing challenge.

As firms expand, it gets tougher to give every contact the attention they deserve. This can quickly lead to missed opportunities, or worse – the loss of lucrative long term retainers. As alternative legal services continue their slow creep towards an already saturated marketplace, competition for work is also higher than ever – and the traditionally narrow gap between lawyer and client is widening.

However, where there is challenge, there is also opportunity. The reality is that faster, cheaper services come at the expense of the personal approach which remains highly coveted in the legal world. Put simply, clients want to feel that they are a priority – and they are willing to pay for it.

The pivotal factor in winning and keeping work is therefore no longer simply technical expertise or word of mouth. It’s also how well a firm is able to build and nurture its human relationships at scale.

Putting people first

Allen Matkins is a successful California-based corporate law firm specialising in real estate work. Starting from humble origins with a team of just ten lawyers in 1977, it has achieved rapid growth to become one of the most preeminent firms on the west coast, now boasting over two hundred attorneys spread across five locations from LA to San Diego.

From the beginning, Allen Matkins has centered its identity around people. Perhaps unusual for a firm with such deep roots, the team has placed client relationships at the forefront of their business development and marketing operations since day one – and are always actively seeking new ways to listen, communicate, and connect.

However, with the firm’s fast expansion transforming its networks almost beyond recognition, Allen Matkins quickly found that their ability to keep track of their contacts was deteriorating. They needed a way to ensure that growth did not come at the cost of their most valued client relationships – both old and new. That meant finding a customisable ERM capable of capturing communications data with pinpoint accuracy – and Client Sense caught their attention.

The grass is greener where you water it

“Client relationships are critical to our success as a firm. But if a client decides to use other counsel, it’s rare that we’ll find out until it’s too late. Client Sense has really helped us to close that gap – it alerts us whenever there’s been a decrease in communication, prompting us to shore up our efforts to get things back on track.”

Anyone familiar with legal business development will tell you that winning work from existing client networks is far easier than bringing in new instructions. Long term relationships are often the key to sustaining a healthy business over time – and this is truer for Allen Matkins than most.

As a firm who has invested heavily in nurturing a dedicated client base, Allen Matkins view their own success as inherently intertwined with that of the individuals and businesses that they act for. It’s a testament to their approach that many of their existing clients have been with them for over 30 years and counting – some of them since the beginning of the firm itself.

Allen Matkins knows the value of loyalty, and the firm is focused on making these clients a top priority. When the firm was in its fledgling stages, this was easily achieved – with just a handful of lawyers and files, staying in touch came naturally. However, the firm’s exponential growth has rendered monitoring every relationship a mammoth task – one which simply can no longer be achieved manually.

As keeping track became more and more difficult, the risk of neglecting valuable relationships was growing. With multiple offices in action, clients were also being transferred between attorneys more than ever before – and preserving hard won relationships through these transitions was becoming a sticking point. Concerned that they were missing opportunities to troubleshoot, nurture these connections and prompt ongoing work, the Allen Matkins team turned to Client Sense for a solution.

Using Client Sense’s simple traffic light system, the marketing team set up customised alerts to identify relationships which were falling by the wayside – and to monitor how transitions between attorneys were performing. This information is now fed back to the attorneys who, in turn, take action to touch base with the client in question.

By making smart use of Client Sense data, the firm has shifted their approach to client retention from remedial to proactive – rescuing key connections before it’s too late.

Knowledge is power

“When it comes to lead generation, we sometimes underestimate how many existing relationships we already have. Client Sense has been a game changer in allowing us to tap into that information. Whether it’s a pitch scenario or a new target, the data keeps us well coordinated internally – so that we appear that way externally as well.”

Whilst taking care of old clients is a crucial part of business at Allen Matkins, there’s always room for the new – and lead generation has played a major role in the swift expansion of the firm. The team’s growing contact network is often the key to finding new work opportunities – whether by identifying new targets, picking up on service gaps with existing clients, or organising networking events.

With a forward-thinking business development team, the firm has always been proactive about getting the right people on the floor at events, and the team always keeps a sharp eye out for pitch opportunities. However, a lack of data tools in this area often left them relying on chance opportunities and falling back on outdated guest lists, resulting in wasted time and lost leads. They needed a way to refine their lead targeting process – and reduce no-shows at networking events.

Because Client Sense gathers detailed information on every relationship across the firm’s five offices, the team are now able to draw on its data to identify untapped points of entry for new leads with far more precision than before. Where previously the firm might have simply spotted that an existing client might benefit from services from a secondary practice area, they can now take things one step further, identifying exactly which connections could be leveraged to fill the gap.

Using Client Sense, Allen Matkins has also changed their approach to developing mailing and invitation lists to marquee events – a critical part of the firm’s strategy for winning new work. Using the platform, the business development team now generates automated invitation lists as a starting point, short-cutting the process of perfecting a list of relevant and current contacts. The result has been a far smoother, more efficient approach to garnering new work firm-wide.

Data accuracy

“We were having issues with our old ERM, and decided to give Client Sense a go. Because we were able to run the two systems concurrently for a period of 6 months, we could really measure the quality of the data and compare what was happening. It didn’t take long into that trial to decide that Client Sense was the right tool for us.”

Maintaining detailed oversight of every commercial relationship at Allen Matkins is a core function of the business development team. With five offices and over 200 attorneys, each with their own web of contacts, there’s a lot to keep track of – and with so many constantly moving parts, handling things manually just isn’t realistic.

Monitoring relationships at the firm is therefore a task which has always been automated by necessity – but to be actionable, this information needs to be watertight and precise. The team trialled a number of ERM systems over the years (largely smaller, independently owned tools which were then acquired by larger technology companies) with varying degrees of success. However, they struggled to find a system which truly delivered accurate and reliable data.

Initially trialling Client Sense in tandem with their previous ERM system, the business development team quickly noticed a major increase in data quality pulled from the new platform. Not only was the system providing clear visibility into the timing and frequency of communication within each and every relationship, it was also delivering valuable nuance with the ability to distinguish between emails, phone calls, and meetings.

Realising that, for the first time, this was data robust enough to be taken to the firm’s lawyers with confidence that it could stand up under the sharpest interrogation, it wasn’t long before the team made the decision to drop their old ERM – and make the switch to Client Sense permanent.

Our biggest cheerleader

“The thing that really stood out for us is how well Client Sense understand how law firms operate. We have never experienced an easier technology platform to work with. Everything – from early demos and contract negotiations to implementation – was just seamless.”

When it comes to business tools, it’s easy to simply buy a product and walk away. But Allen Matkins is all about relationships in every sense of the word – and their collaboration with Client Sense has been far more than a one off purchase. From onboarding and routine check-ins to conversations about future features, this is an ongoing partnership which continues to evolve over time.

From the very beginning, what struck the firm about Client Sense was the seamlessness of their customer experience. The fact that the Client Sense team came from an IT background within law firms proved to be a huge asset – they knew what the pain points were, what would stall the implementation process, and had already solved those issues ahead of time.

Far from simply offering a “one size fits all” solution, the Client Sense team also took into account the unique challenges presented by the firm’s existing technology systems, customising the platform’s implementation and configuring things in a way that would not cause any internal difficulties.

“Client Sense truly cares about our success as a client. They are not focused on getting a contract signed. They are not focused on selling the product. They are genuinely focused on supporting our business, cheering us on, and making sure the platform works for us – and that’s unusual.”

In line with Allen Matkins’ own ethos, the Client Sense team has remained invested in the firm’s success far beyond the point of sale. Noting that the team regularly reaches out to ensure that they are getting the most out of the tool, the firm have found immense value in the way that Client Sense continually hone their service offering, from refined integrations to the development of new features.

If there’s one thing that Allen Matkins and Client Sense have in common, it’s that neither are prone to sitting on their laurels. As both teams look to the future, they continue to explore the potential of the tool. For now, it’s a fruitful collaboration on both sides, supporting the firm’s growth whilst keeping their most valued relationships intact – and their feet firmly on the ground.