It’s been an amazing run. And it may just keep going.
But, clients report 5 little-noticed circumstances enabling law firms to either keep the surge going for years — or cut it short at the end of the next matter. 5 factors reveal why some firms will enjoy streams of work for years — and others will battle for RFPs once the surge starts to tail off. Or even if it doesn’t, the favored firms will enjoy outsized gains. These 5 factors are:
21% Have Not Met Their Relationship Partner
Clients know someone is in charge of the relationship. They have heard the name. The relationship attorney is often cc’d on emails. But, clients haven’t met them. And clients wonder why.
They reason a relationship attorney can’t understand their goals and preferences without ever at least having a discussion. Relationship partner contact also demonstrates respect for clients.
Clients view this gap as a subtle message from their law firms on how they are not one of the truly valued clients — and we hear this from some of the most coveted clients in the world.
28% Don’t Know who at Their Primary Law Firm is Accountable for Their Relationship
The top legal decision makers know they have a lot of attorneys running around doing work on various matters. They don’t know who exactly is in charge and still get multiple bills from various attorneys in the same firm. Clients blame turnover in law firms, partner reassignment, attorney promotions, law firm politics, and firms who don’t embrace the relationship partner model.
Clients want a SPOC — a single point of contact. Your client’s workload goes up exponentially when they don’t have one. It also makes law firms look indifferent to the relationship. These are 2 big demerits in a world where clients face a peak workload.
19% of Clients Believe Their Firms are Investing in the Relationship, Which Means 81% Don’t
Continued investing makes client relationships grow. This includes everything from educating clients, ongoing communication, asking for feedback, offering help in non-legal areas, and sharing knowledge about what is going on in their industry. Only 1 in 5 clients see an ongoing investment by their primary outside law firm.
This investment gives you leg up when it comes to the new business — and for small and midsize firms can be the great equalizer. Clients prize industry and business along with their legal skills — more than any other factor.
This investment is much cheaper than acquiring a new client to replace any business lost. And, both partners and clients tell us it is intellectually rewarding.
1 in 3 Clients Are New to Their Role — And Don’t Know You
36% of clients are new to the role in the last 2 years. They inherited you along with a group of other law firms. They left a job where they had relationships and a well-developed strategy for running their department.
Almost no law firms have any process to meet or onboard these new clients. Few clients report any kind of law firm outreach when they change companies. Law firms are missing an enormous opportunity to onboard their new client and set up a powerful path for new business for years to come. Or, these new clients will be looking for the law firms and attorneys they know and trust to eventually replace the legacy firms.
35% of Clients Can Brainstorm With Their Primary Law Firm
Top legal decision makers continually tell us brainstorming with savvy outside counsel is one of the best parts of their job. They get more tailored outcomes, have to explain less throughout the process, and feel confident in the process.
But only 1 in 3 clients feel like they can engage in this high-value activity with their primary firm. A little brainstorming goes a long way. It gives you the inside track on how your client thinks about matters, risk, and outside counsel management — all enough of a moat to keep other law firms out.
It’s easy to be too busy to build relationships. All you have to do is delay it one day at a time. The next thing you know, a couple of years have passed. Your client has moved on and they are wondering who to hire next.
You can learn if these unintended inactions are happening with any of your clients today through BTI Online Feedback and Telephone-based Feedback.
The world quickly moves from invested relationships to transactional matters — except for the minority of firms making sure they engage in at least 3 of the 5 activities above. They will not only get more of the continued current workstream — but will likely be asked to follow their clients as they move to bigger and better things.
Best in the market ahead.
The Mad Clientist