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BTI’s 14th annual Client Service Review and Market Outlook, held last week, was a raving success. We had a record crowd from 11 countries — and the largest contingent of the Big 4 we have seen yet. We discussed the state-of-the-market and client service — here are the 6 takeaways to help you define business development strategies in the uncertain world of 2023.

Clients Face Widest Ever Array of Competing Priorities

Top legal decision makers detail at least 10 areas competing for resources and attention. When clients face this broad spectrum of needs and management demands, they will first look to law firms with Business Development Executives who know how to navigate their firms to get clients the right resources. Firms with Strategic Account Teams will also benefit as they study clients broad-based needs on a continuous basis and can anticipate client needs; and firms with client feedback at scale understand how this will play out at each major client.

High Impact on Revenue — Increasing Urgency

At least 5 client priorities impact revenue and operations, attracting more management questions and attention than ever before. This increases urgency, corporate counsel responsibility, and exposure. Attorneys who can provide insight or act as a sounding board can add substantial value.

Management questions demand faster response times, putting pressure on outside counsel to respond even faster with practice insight. Clients need quick, short answers — which may not be fully built out but offer a path to an answer.

Clients’ Need to Upskill Staff and Boost Productivity Rivals Legal Priorities

Client need for upskilling in-house attorneys and dramatically increasing throughput is a major opportunity for law firms to introduce Legal Project Management Teams to help bring order and productivity — and transfer skills.

Clients Have Pitch Fatigue

Clients have pitch fatigue from hiring so many law firms over the past 2 years. Law firms offering substantive discussion instead of statistics will have a big advantage.

Law Firms Face Large Number of Unseen Client Relationship Gaps

The combination of client turnover and law firm turnover is leaving large gaps where relationships used to be. In short — clients see voids in many law firm relationships where the law firms are convinced no gap exists. You can also check this through strategically crafted questions as part of client feedback. BTI can help you with this — immediately.

Client Spending Increases are in Select Industries and Clients

Overall, US companies plan to increase spending by 4.7% in 2023 in today’s dollars — no inflation or rate adjustments. Any rate increase above this amount will eat into any incremental increase in work. Law firms bringing early assessments and client relationship prowess will overcome the rate issue — illustrating the power/value of sharing thoughts early and strong client relationships. The rate increases are clustered in 52% of the client base — with another 37% holding their spending steady.

These takeaways reflect the uncertainty and recession concerns. The current demands on corporate counsel are compelling — it will take a meaningful recession to break the spending pattern.

You can watch the recording of the webinar here. You can get all the details in our newly released report The BTI Practice Outlook 2023, your guide and the gold standard for laying out the next phase of legal markets — as our research has been for 31 years. In use by more than 200 law firms, this is the source to map out your business development with precision.

Best in the market ahead.

The Mad Clientist

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