Case Study: Butler Snow
Butler Snow is a rarity amongst mid-sized law firms, rapidly growing in spite of industry trends. Their tagline, Law Elevated, sums up their unique, collaborative philosophy — a multifaceted approach that provides their clients with an elevated level of legal services.
This philosophy has worked exceedingly well for the firm. They’ve strategically grown to over 350 lawyers, doubling their attorney base over the last seven years and debuting in the Am Law 200 at position 155.
Butler Snow Selected Foundation to Compete More Effectively
“Being able to easily put our fingers on insights can help us make our clients more successful and is a huge competitive advantage for the firm.”
– Sherry Vance Allen, Chief Marketing Officer
Growing Out of a System
Growth can be exciting. But in Butler Snow’s case, it also put stress on internal organizations like Marketing and Business Development, who have seen their RFP and pitch requests double or triple each year. And while it’s difficult to keep track of a small firm’s expertise and body of work, Butler Snow’s 350+ lawyers proved too much to manage without a dedicated system to organize it all.
“As we have grown over the past few years, keeping track of everyone’s most significant matters has been more difficult,” noted Jennifer O’Donnell, Senior Business Development Manager at Butler Snow. She likens it to a duck on a calm pond. “We tried to make it look easy, but our feet were paddling as fast as possible underneath the water as we scrambled to get attorneys the answers and resources they were looking for.”
Butler Snow had developed a tracking mechanism using a centralized system for all RFPs and used Word and Excel to track various levels of experience. But search capabilities were lacking, and the potential for duplicates far greater. While useful, the system was not as effective as it could be and was certainly not scalable for the long-term needs of the firm or the Marketing and Business Development departments.
We tried to make it look easy, but our feet were paddling as fast as possible underneath the water as we scrambled to get attorneys the answers and resources they were looking for
– Jennifer O’Donnell, Senior Business Development Manager, Butler Snow
Strength in Experience
According to CMO Sherry Vance Allen, “We’ve strategically built out experience that is broad and deep, and our group is tasked with tracking it all, making sure that we’re able to rapidly access and leverage that body of knowledge to better serve our clients and move the business forward.” As a full-service law firm with over 50 practice areas across numerous industries, Butler Snow prides itself on knowing an industry inside and out, pooling resources between client and industry teams to ensure their clients stay ahead of the curve.
Allen continued, “Any solution that we chose needed to give us granular access to this data so that we could sort and search on everything from industry types to jurisdictions, practice groups to lawyer expertise, locations, niche experiences, and more. Being able to easily put our finger on those insights can help us make our clients more successful and is a huge competitive advantage for the firm.”
To that end, the Foundation Firm Intelligence platform helps Butler Snow assemble the right people to deliver excellent legal services at a fair price. Lawyers can focus on learning the business and the needs of their clients and lean on Foundation to help put together a team so there is no experience gap.
A Foundation for Firm Intelligence
“We undertook a comprehensive search of the available tools in the marketplace and found other experience management systems to be less robust,” recalled O’Donnell. “Foundation customers, on the other hand, had talked about how easy Foundation was to configure, minimizing our need for a lot of extra effort and paid services. They also mentioned how helpful Foundation support had been.”
With the assistance of the Foundation Customer Success team, Butler Snow met their goal of launching Foundation as a fully functional platform, populated with legacy information from their spreadsheets, live integrations with Aderant, ready-to-use firm-branded proposal templates, and the ability to automatically pull bio information from their website.
Triggered workflows improve the process of keeping Foundation information up to date, letting the team know when it’s time to gather additional details about matters from the lawyers to improve searchability and craft specialty narratives.
“Foundation helps keep our lawyers informed so they can better serve our clients and compete more effectively,” said O’Donnell. “We’re able to pull whatever they’re looking for faster, whether by client or by type of work. It’s improved our process tenfold, and ultimately, we know that the lawyers will not miss the annoying ‘pardon the interruption’ emails that would otherwise pull them away from their billable work.”
Moving From Reactive to Proactive
Making the Business Development department more nimble was a primary driver of moving to Foundation, giving Butler Snow the ability to focus on strategic projects that make a larger impact for the firm. “Foundation not only helps us easily put our fingers on the experience and expertise we need to craft a more competitive pitch, it has literally cut our proposal generation time in half, creating capacity for the team to provide even more value to our lawyers,” O’Donnell noted.
Built-in opportunity tracking provides a better picture of where and why they win and lose to help optimize their process going forward. Moreover, the team is already curating experiences to include in next season’s Chambers submissions, which they will be able to generate from Foundation. Next up is moving the management of biographies to Foundation, taking advantage of its workflow and review capabilities to improve consistency.
O’Donnell noted, “We are extremely pleased with the decision we made in choosing Foundation, and we believe that it will serve our department and the attorneys very well, both in the short and long term.”