In the past few years, we’ve seen a shift across the legal profession as lawyers wake up to the reality that their firms do not reflect the diversity of society and are increasingly motivated to act.
The organizers of the GC Thought Leaders Experiment, a study of the data contained in the in-house evaluations of more than 1,400 legal matters, recently released a remarkable finding: the largest and most pedigreed law firms, the AmLaw 20, lag behind the rest of the AmLaw 200—that is: the AmLaw 21-200—in providing high-quality client service. In other words, the assumption that the most lauded and most expensive firms will deliver work that is, on average, superior to their smaller competitors turns out not to be supported by the data.
For all the talk of how the traditional law firm model is being disrupted by this trend or that, the key challenge for leaders remains, as ever, how to build something that lasts, something that is bigger than the sum of its parts.
Attorneys face a challenge unique within the business world. They must perform both tasks central to business development: performing excellent service (doing) and acquiring new clients in need of service (selling). As law firm leaders look to the future, how can they approach managing and developing their attorneys to be effective doers and sellers? Our webinar “Play Your Position” offers tools in two management areas:
Philosophies of Effective Selling
A successful plan begins with building your attorneys’ knowledge of effective selling. Selling requires the development of authentic relationships with prospective clients—a process that takes time and doesn’t always yield immediate results. Providing solutions to problems that need to be solved, and understanding that how you do what you do is as important as what you accomplish, are two ways to nurture these crucial relationships. A host of qualifiers will impact the path from first contact to closing the deal: the client’s problem, the solutions you propose, the sense of urgency, your access to the tools you need to solve it, the client’s expectations, and of course the budget. Anticipating each of these factors is key to successfully negotiating this path.
What is the biggest pain point you are currently facing in your role? Our webinar, From Good Law to Great Law™, polls showed that half of attendees are experiencing a pain point in regards to influencing lawyers to follow through on commitments. We also saw a large group (50%) that said an apathy or lack of lawyer engagement was the most challenging part of their role.
We're learning, with the voice of client research and aggregating insights from many reputable research organizations, what buyers of legal services are experiencing from high performing firms.
Our recent webinar, "From Good Law to Great Law™: Building a Culture of Business Development and Distinctive Client Experience," sparked some great conversation among attendees. How do you build a culture of law that:
- develops and maintains authentic client relationships;
- understands and provides counsel in context of the client business;
- communicates in ways that build trust and loyalty;
- demonstrate appreciation for clients and their business;
- seek and act on client feedback;
- demonstrates care in billing and fees?
Law firm leadership is at a proverbial fork in the road. The people running law firms can continue to do business as usual, or they can lead their firms toward a model of business that reflects the new and still evolving client expectations and market demands.
Business as usual means trying to squeeze modest growth out of reduced expenses, increased billable hours, and hourly rate increases. That is how it has always been done, right?
Value is not measured in isolation. Buyers of legal services have many choices when it comes to addressing their legal needs, so value will always be a comparative measure.
Lawyers often think they compete against other attorneys who come from firms that are similar to their own. In today’s legal market, that theorem does not always hold true.