There is no shortage of decisions facing law firm leaders.
The nature and number of issues keep heading up. These leaders are looking for new ways of doing business — at least for their firm. They see high stakes — and big opportunity. Law firms have never been this big nor had this much capital at risk.
Here are the top 6 market-facing decisions sitting at the top of the list:
1. Delivering Uniform Performance Across the Firm
Clients love uniformity in their law firm experience. They limit the work they dole out to inconsistent firms. Clients want to know what they will get. Law firm leaders are trying to reign in the different approaches to client management, pitches and proposals, and client-facing activities. They want to paint a picture of the uniform experience.
Firmwide training, written protocols, and measurement drive this change. Client feedback at scale is one of the most powerful drivers behind meaningful behavioral change.
2. Creating a One-Firm Approach
Delivering a uniform performance across the firm is only the first step. This means a system where practices, offices, and people work together with a free flow of work and ideas. This is especially hard with so many practices, independent thinkers, and legacy approaches in offices, industries, and clients.
A one-firm approach brings economies of scale — creating a big boost in profits per partner. And this is only the beginning. Firms free up more resources to invest in their growth engines. These same firms can better target the best opportunities.
Successful firms rely on well-developed strategic plans, bring unflinching commitment, and communicate how the opportunity offers substantially more than other approaches. A one-firm approach brings 3 to 5 times more practices to a client than other firms.
3. Improve Client Service Across the Firm
Clients are expecting more from law firms than ever, and clients are getting more vocal about client service failures. Despite everything in the whirlwind — superior client service continues to be the biggest differentiator between law firms — and the top reason for hiring.
Client demands are changing with every new regulation. The law firms actively embracing systems to ensure superior client service are carving out an edge. These firms embrace client feedback at scale, client service standards, training, and ongoing measurement and bring it into the culture of the firm.
Growth, new laterals, retirements, and departures create more distance between lawyers, offices, and practices. Law firms have more people who don’t know each other than ever.
4. Finding the Right Clients
Midsize firms want clients who will propel growth. Firms with industry programs are looking to build out their industry prowess. The largest firms want big and international clients. These firms want to be able to target their resources toward clients who bring substantial lifetime value — and can be growth engines. They create more revenue for the same investment as going after a wide net of clients.
Success demands targeting, a deep understanding of these clients and their industry, and client relationship prowess. It also requires a sharing culture to ensure targeted clients get resources and ideas.
This goal is one of the drivers behind creating a one-firm approach and improving client service across the firm.
5. Embed Business Development in the Culture
The future portends a shortage of rainmakers and business developers. The pandemic had the unintended effect of creating inbound business and excess billable work. Good for profits but not good for bringing out business development’s importance. A growing number of law firm leaders are introducing the topic of training and coaching — and bringing it up as part of the strategic planning process.
Look for more and widespread training. And look for BD metrics to dig deeper and wider to measure and improve BD efforts.
6. Reading the Economy and the State of Legal Spending
No matter what law firm leaders are doing, they have one eye on the economy. They perceive mixed signals about a slowdown, but business remains quite robust for many firms. The BTI Practice Outlook shows 89% of clients increasing or holding spending steady for 2023. All BTI current research confirms this as of this writing.
The safest strategy for uncertainty is to double down on your clients — especially your best clients. They have enough spending to drive substantial growth for any size law firm if they switched more work over to you — even in the same practice — no cross-selling needed.
Law firm leaders are focusing on these issues because they drive growth. The bigger decision lies in how much to invest in a chosen path and how to make it stick.
History tells us the more you invest for longer the better. Each brings everyone in the firm closer to the same goals using the same set of core activities — with enough room to add their personal touch.
Happy to talk through any of these with you.
Best in the market ahead.
The Mad Clientist