by Jim Durham / March 13, 2017
Law firm leadership is at a proverbial fork in the road. The people running law firms can continue to do business as usual, or they can lead their firms toward a model of business that reflects the new and still evolving client expectations and market demands.
Business as usual means trying to squeeze modest growth out of reduced expenses, increased billable hours, and hourly rate increases. That is how it has always been done, right?
But think about this. Everything that clients are telling us, and every market trend is confirming, that law firms cannot count on more hours and higher rates for long-term growth. The business as usual strategy is out of alignment with client preferences and the clear shift is to use value as the primary driver of client satisfaction. For some law firm leaders, modest short-term growth is fine. It might get them through the balance of their term as managing partner, or, in some cases, sustain the firm long enough for them to retire. Bold leaders need to do more.
The word “innovation” can sound intimidating, so we suggest that law firm leaders think about it as moving from good law to Great Law. It is not enough to be a forward-looking leader in the current environment, it is critical to be forward-acting; that means being committed to modifying compensation systems, improving talent acquisition and development throughout the organization, and recognizing lawyers for making important contributions beyond the delivery of legal services (recruiting, account management, sales, mentoring, etc.).
Great Law means investing in training, coaching, and technology to support client service excellence, revenue generation, and legal project management.
This forward-acting approach might seem radical, but the evidence of a shrinking, hyper-competitive market is overwhelming. Millions of dollars are being invested in businesses that offer alternative legal services, clients are bringing work in-house, and many firms are getting serious about winning and keeping clients. If your firm is not, it could be left behind. And, it is important to note that the need for visionary leadership is size agnostic — Great Law is not just the province of Big Law. The need to be more strategic, and to make investments and operational improvements exists equally in the smaller and middle-market firms. Great Law is also authentic.
Legal marketing professionals can be the leading force in the move to Great Law.
Interested in hearing more? Watch the on-demand recording of our “From Good Law to Great Law” webinar!