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The largest legal spenders are hiring law firms with new expectations. Each and every hiring decision is subject to these new demands. The biggest of these new demands — using more associates on their new matters. 40% of clients are including use of associates in their final hiring decisions. An additional 25% are giving it equal weight and want to know how their law firms can better use associates, asking for ideas and approaches.

These aren’t just any clients; they include the largest spending industries. We found the most interest in 5 industry/client groups:

  • Banking
  • Financial Services
  • Pharma
  • Global Brands
  • High Tech

These large spending clients see associates as a key tool in managing costs structurally — meaning lowering the cost of delivery instead of slashing rates.

We note 17% of clients don’t want associates near their work, with the remainder largely agnostic.

You can win more work by using these clear preferences to your advantage. We recommend:

  • Asking clients about their staffing preferences — and why — well before you prepare your proposal, even if the RFP says not to call with questions.
  • Highlighting your staffing strategy and its benefits in your pitch, once you know what clients want.
  • Including an associate in your pitch — it makes a resounding statement as to your confidence in your associates.
  • If you believe the matter is not associate friendly, explain your thinking and discuss the issue with your client outside the pitch. You need allies going into the pitch — you won’t build them during the course of it.

The number of clients wanting associates on their matters is higher than ever before. It is part of a slow-growing but strategic trend towards clients wanting their law firms to use more associates, share more about training associates, and using associates in a cost-effective manner (i.e., under an AFA) to manage structural costs.

You have your chance to meet your client’s needs and boost associate satisfaction. Find the associates interested in business development and give them a meaningful role in a pitch where they can relate to the results. You will get more business, train associates, and change the culture more towards business development in one stroke. As a reminder, the biggest clients are expecting law firms to use more associates — use this trend to your advantage and get credit for being more client-centric.

And — stay tuned —The BTI Litigation Outlook 2021: The Pandemic-Led Market is scheduled for release in 2 weeks. You can gain access to the only deep-dive interviews (more than 240) with top decision makers post pandemic. Please reply to Michael Rynowecer if you want early access and to be part of the exclusive webinar to discuss the market.

Be safe. Be well. Be cautious


The MAD Clientist

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