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The Mad Clientist

Ignore Market Trends: Strategic Planning’s Third Deadly Sin

By January 14, 2015April 16th, 2020No Comments

Dealing with market trends adds a new degree of difficulty to strategic planning. This is especially true when the trends are anything but high growth. Not only do you have to come up with the right goals, you now need to either take advantage of external forces or at least take them into account.

Most law firms want to know the trends, few want to face them head on. We can pinpoint 6 reasons:

  • Trends require explanation and proof to convince partners, and often leadership, of their impact
  • Leveraging anything but a growth trend is a relatively new phenomena which may demand new and untested tactics
  • There are so many trends it is difficult to separate the driving trends from the inconsequential ones
  • Trends connected with low growth or flat markets push law firms out of their comfort zone—and into dealing with the unknown
  • The metrics used to drive success will be new and different and need to be developed
  • We often don’t like the trends—slow growth, less work, rate pressure or increasing client expectations 

Trends are agnostic and have no feelings. Virtually every trend has an upside. Unless the practice of law disappears from society entirely you can find an approach to take advantage of any trend. Your approach will be viewed by other law firms as bold, wrong, counterintuitive and with puzzlement. But, meeting trends head on means you will be positioning yourself for leadership.

In 1994, the Defense industry was facing budget cuts and program cutbacks. Defense contractors Lockheed and Martin Marietta agreed to merge to create scale and efficiency in the coming down market. Lockheed Martin is now the largest US Government contractor and is almost twice the size of the number 2 firm—in a growing and redefined market. Law firms would not be confused with government contractors but Lockheed’s counterintuitive move redefined the company and the industry.


People think they pay attention to market trends. But, the reality is—they almost totally ignore them.

Knowing the trends means next to nothing. Even understanding the trends means little. Taking specific action based on the trends means everything. Take action: craft strategies and tactics specifically to take advantage of the current trends or use the trends to guide your plans.

What’s your next move?


We discussed market trends and more in our annual BTI Market Outlook and Client Service Review. You can view the full webinar here:


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