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The Mad Clientist

Large Law Edges Out Mid-Sized Firms for New Work, with Higher Rates

By August 12, 2015April 16th, 2020No Comments

The score is in: large law 60, all others 40.

60% of law firm hires went to larger law firms (650 lawyers or more) in the last year. Clients report hiring large law as a result of increased and more pointed attention—think industry knowledge and more specific discussion of company issues. Think less about your firm statistics and more about the people to whom you are talking.[1]

Rates Are the Red Herring

The winning larger firms are commanding 33.1% more per hour than their mid-sized competitors. We now have more proof clients do not shop for rates unless it’s a politically correct tool to say no. Clients believe they are getting something substantial for this rate premium—value. Large law has been able to develop a higher-calorie billable hour. 

Mid-Sized Firms Facing a Higher Hurdle

The onus is on mid-sized firms to do better. Clients expect mid-sized firms to bring more client focus and more business understanding than large law—but are not always getting what they expect. And, mid‑sized firms have to demonstrate vastly better understanding of their potential clients’ targeted objectives than large law.

Improve Your Win Rate Immediately

Clients consistently tell us they are stunned at the lack of pre-proposal engagement by law firms. You can conduct a more thoughtful interview with your potential client before completing your proposal. Your probes and questions set your baseline for exactly how much you understand your potential client and how much you want to understand—before you ever get hired.

Large law is under pressure to be hungry—and they are. Large law is more aggressive in their pitches and pursuits. These aggressive firms are standing out. Not because they are large, but because they are showing more interest in their potential clients. A place where any firm can shine—just by asking.


[1] This research is based on 280 in-depth interviews with corporate counsel at companies larger than $750 million in revenue as part of BTI’s ongoing Annual Survey of General Counsel.

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