Clients See Big Changes in Law Firm Brands—The New BTI Brand Elite 28

Brand defines who you are to clients. Not who you were. Our research reveals 8 firms who boosted their brand enough to find their way onto the the BTI Brand Elite 28—which also has the effect of knocking 8 firms off. 

Clients See Changing Brands—Law Firm Brands Become Volatile

Clients rely on 9 attributes to separate one law firm from another, make hiring decisions, and pick and choose who they ultimately work with—and who they don’t. Clients also see brand as volatile. As law firms change and evolve, clients change their views and reset their perceptions of the firm’s brand.

Jones Day Earns Best-Branded Law Firm

The biggest and most notable change is Jones Day taking over as the best-branded law firm. The firm has always been strong but now earns the number-one spot by improving its recognition for client-facing aspects of innovation beyond any other firm. Jones Day earns best-of-the-best in all 9 of the branding attributes which leave the biggest imprint on clients—and their hiring decisions. 

Client rankings vaulted 8 other law firm brands onto the BTI Brand Elite 28: 

  •  Cooley—making its debut appearance on the BTI Brand Elite 28 on the strength of its innovation and unprompted recommendations to corporate counsel peers
  • Cravath, Swaine & Moore—last appearing on the BTI Brand Elite 28 in 2012, rejoins the BTI Brand Elite as it improved its recognition for being a premium-worthy firm and for innovation
  • Dechert—debuts on the BTI Brand Elite 28 by becoming more recognized for bet-the-company work and innovation
  • Polsinelli—makes its premiere showing on the BTI Brand Elite 28 for the strength of its dramatic growth in being included on client short lists and earning unprompted recommendations from clients to their peers based on client service
  • Ogletree Deakins—joins the BTI Brand Elite 28 as a result of its innovative client service
  • Simpson Thacher—the firm tops 3 years of steady increases with its 1st appearance on the BTI Brand Elite 28, with a combination of improved innovation and earning more places on corporate counsel short lists of law firms to be hired
  • White & Case—the firm last appeared on the BTI Brand Elite 28 in 2012, with 3-pronged increases in client recommendations to peers, broader recognition for bet-the-company work, and more innovation
  • Pillsbury—earns its 1st trip to the BTI Brand Elite 28 by being recognized in all 9 branding attributes for the first time and particularly for innovation in client service. 

The Brand Elite 28

Please join me in congratulating the top 28 BTI Brand Elite law firms in the just-released BTI Brand Elite 2017. 

Brand Elite 28 2017




Jones Day






DLA Piper


Baker McKenzie


Latham & Watkins




Wachtell Lipton


Gibson Dunn


Kirkland & Ellis




Reed Smith




Morgan Lewis


Davis Polk


Sullivan & Cromwell


Hogan Lovells


K&L Gates








Ogletree Deakins


Greenberg Traurig


Simpson Thacher


Norton Rose Fulbright


White & Case


Seyfarth Shaw




You can learn about the detailed changes in your firm’s brand with your copy of the BTI Brand Elite 2017: Client Perceptions of the Best-Branded Law Firms, available now. 

Only 20% of CMOs Trusted Advisors

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Advisors bring deep knowledge and insight. Trust means you are relied on. Only 20% of CMOs feel like they are both. The bulk of law firm marketing leaders believe they are supported, respected, and well thought of—but—they have not yet gained the coveted trust.*

CMOs who believe they are relied on for their knowledge act differently. Their advice and counsel to all others aspiring to become trusted advisors includes:

  1. Speak your voice. Don’t wait to be asked—offer your thoughts and opinions.
  2. Be ready—and welcome the chance—to defend your position against the kind of cross-examination only a world-class litigator can deliver.
  3. Be sure to construct your thoughts in a positive manner.
  4. Learn the art of being diplomatic and firm.
  5. Know the lay of the land—don’t argue and present ideas you know everyone is against.
  6. Sell your ideas to key partners individually and get their input before making formal recommendations to a committee.
  7. Say no when asked to engage in low value-added activities.

Most CMOs need time to develop these skills, especially developing their voice. You will gain these skills by observing others who have attained trusted advisor status. You can practice your own skills in your department or smaller-scale meetings. Most of all, the trusted advisors build these behaviors into their daily life. You can start with one behavior or with all of them—but starting and building your skills is the key path to follow.

Getting Close to Trusted Advisor

41.7% of law firm CMOs, twice the trusted advisor rate, describe themselves as respected and supported by the partners in their firms—but have yet not made the leap to trusted advisor. Respect and support are precursors to becoming a trusted advisor. These CMOs have the challenge of converting respect into trust. Respect is hard enough to earn—but successfully transferring this into trust demands more to win over the partners. You can take the advice above and look for ways to spend more face time with partners.

The overworked world of the CMO makes face time a rarity—but face time, dialogue, and helping partners be more successful will help you cross the divide in your favor.

CMOs on the Market?

Just over 1/3rd of law firm CMOs believe their relationship with their firm’s partners is somewhere between tentative to skeptical. These CMOs are fighting an uphill battle and feel like they get little accomplished. Many of these relationships are difficult to convert to a more productive status. Some will fight the good fight to make new friends and influence partners—but some, especially those where partners are skeptical, have one foot out the door.

Law firms who add an element of skepticism or a tentativeness to the CMO relationship mix are putting their revenue streams at risk—if for no other reason than the firms with trusted CMOs are focusing their energy on clients and developing business, while the skeptics question why they should. 


*Based on in-depth interviews BTI conducted with more than 150 law firm marketing leaders between June 2016 and September 2016.

Client Research: Super-Charged Business Development

Client research is more than a quick perusal of a client's website, and The Mad Clientist is here to run through the ways you can super charge your business development by taking your client research in the right direction. 

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here:

We’ll be releasing videos here on The Mad Clientist blog every Tuesday. Subscribe today (in the box at the upper right of your screen) and be sure you don't miss a single one.

And if you're ready for a deep dive on your own clients, BTI's Custom Client Feedback programs are a first step toward more business at higher rates, much higher client retention AND superior client relationships. Visit to learn more.

The Business Development Window is About to Open—For a Very Short Time

It’s prime cross-selling season.

Every 12 to 18 months your clients face new and vexing problems. These issues change like clockwork. Some will appear, disappear, and reappear over time—but the issues will always have a new and more complex twist. The time is upon us.

There are few better cross-selling opportunities than to send a couple of partners to talk about these new vexing issues with clients before they start seeking answers for themselves. You want to position yourselves as the source. Even if you don’t have the answers you want to be the first to hear the questions—so you can get your clients the answers before anyone else.

Done right, you will be informing your clients about high-value issues and your clients will talk to their corporate counsel peers about how helpful your partners are. The law firms who are best at using this opportunity to develop business rely on a small group of partners—think 3 or 4—who have the knowledge and client savvy to join the relationship partner in visiting top clients. These partners bring the relevant insight, are skilled in sharing this insight, and know how to work with the relationship partner to turn these conversations into business.

These are the partners who know you can only cross-sell when you add value. And they know helping clients think through their most vexing issues—the issues keeping clients awake at night—adds the most value while also bringing new partners into the relationship—the trifecta for big-time cross-selling.

BTI's exclusive research with more than 300 top legal decision makers* uncovered the top issues causing their insomnia. These are your best fodder for the prime cross-selling season ahead. The top 3 issues are:

The Potential Breakdown of the Regulatory World

The removal of regulations is as rattling as adding new ones. Potential changes in regulations tie cybersecurity as the biggest source of insomnia for top legal decision makers.

Regulatory issues have been growing as a top concern for the last 3 years. The last 2 years were driven by increasingly aggressive interpretation and enforcement. We now see top legal decision makers focused on which regulations will be rolled back, changed, and how long the rollbacks might stick. It seems the corporate counsel community would welcome a rollback but wants specifics—and wants to be sure these relaxed regulations won’t somehow be reinstated.

Companies with international operations are also concerned about the regulatory impact of a post-Brexit world—and any implications before, during, and after.


Cybersecurity is tied with regulatory issues to top the list of sleepless nights, up from number 4 last year—and was not even on the list of top concerns prior to 2014. Chief legal officers know data security issues lurk in so many places, and states are especially aggressive in passing new requirements and regulations. Your knowledge of the state requirements and current best practices will open doors to new business.

Managing Risk

Risk comes in many forms. The common denominator is assessing the unknown. Top legal decision makers welcome knowledge-rich discussions about managing risk. This offers law firms the opportunity to tap each partner in the firm for at least one suggestion to manage risk and create a risk management database to use firmwide. You can then tailor the suggestions for each specific client by practice, industry, and type of company to drive client-specific discussions with multiple partners.

These vexing issues will continue to be a prime opportunity during cross-selling season—but your window is limited. The partners who have these discussions after the 1st quarter and proxy season winds down have the best opportunity. This window extends into the first 2 months and winds down as the quarter ends.

Take the chart below, or issues in the chart below, and discuss with your clients. Go over every item and see where your clients think they stand. You will get an education about how your clients think about their world, and walk away with new business. 

*Based on in-depth BTI research conducted on a rolling basis between February 2016 and August 2016. BTI conducted more than 330 independent, individual interviews with CLOs and General Counsel at Fortune 1000 companies and large organizations, as well as 200 interviews with law firm leaders.

Getting the Lucrative Work Before it Goes to RFP

Bet-the-Company and complex matters are permeating the marketplace, and clients aren't inclined to go out to RFP. The Mad Clientist walks you through exactly how firms get access to this work.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here:

You can also find more details on the client development referenced in the above video here: Client Development: The Key to Dramatic Growth.

We’ll be releasing videos here on The Mad Clientist blog every Tuesday. Subscribe today (in the box at the upper right of your screen) and be sure you don't miss a single one.

The First $100 Million Client

$70 to $80 million clients are no longer the study of cryptozoologists. These relationships are real, tangible, verified, and highly prized. And, the $100 million client is within sight*. To be clear, these gargantuan relationships are rare—with somewhere around 30 clients globally spending $70 million or more with a single law firm on a recurring basis.

This milestone marks the beginning of a new age. Law firms of all sizes will start to see relationships substantially larger than they have seen—and in some cases imagined—before. This phenomenon will not be limited to the world’s largest firms. We uncovered one of the largest relationships at a law firm in the largest 101–200 law firms. We expect to see a select group of smaller and midsize firms developing more relationships in the $25 to $50 million range—if not bigger.

Giga-relationships come about in many ways. But we find a core commonality of all the strategies in use to develop and keep these clients.

All of the firms with giga-clients have a continuous client feedback loop. This feedback is detailed, covers every aspect of performance, and is specific. The feedback is candid because these clients want their law firms to get better and become even more valuable. These clients don’t give their law firms time to rest or admire their own performance. This is a world of real performance feedback—the kind every law firm would (and should) want from any client.

The firms rarely talk about collaborating—the team is too busy working together. The senior partner spends enormous energy making sure everyone on the team is informed about the client and each other. Everyone understands this client team has a leader. Anyone on the team who worries about not getting credit usually finds themselves no longer working on the client’s assignments. These clients get an all-or-nothing effort.

Some of the lead partners have been known to swap origination credit and other metrics to ensure all would benefit over time while putting client needs ahead of their short-term interest. This is client focus working around a system getting in their way.

And, underneath all these essential client-centric, selfless behaviors lies a shrewd strategy. The senior partners are busy sowing the seeds for future work. These partners are talking to their clients, analyzing their every word, report, and filing they can get their hands on. These partners send their team members to attend product development meetings to spot new IP and regulatory opportunities—and use this to think about how to get their clients to market faster. These partners have the best client intelligence, business intelligence, and client feedback in the world—and they use it all to stay ahead.

Firms can draw out these valued partner behaviors because the prize is so visible and cost of failure so obvious. But the same applies to almost any Top 100 client in any firm of every size. The opportunity in most clients is enormous. The same partners who developed these giga-relationships started with much smaller relationships—no one starts with a $70 million client relationship.

We recommend adopting the strategies and attitudes used to support the largest client relationships with these clients. In fact—go further—think about your firm’s top 100 clients. Every BTI client we know adopting this approach has registered double-digit client growth within 2 years. Today’s low growth market screams for this approach.

The law firms with the mega relationships have an edge—but you can start your own version of giga-client care today. This could be one of the most strategic decisions you make. All you need is one competitor to act before you at the same client and you are now behind. BTI has helped numerous clients develop these large scale trophy relationships—some starting with $200 thousand in billings. Call or click here to talk this through in more detail.

BTI research shows the average size of the largest relationship at a law firm is:

  • $33.6 million at the Am Law largest 30 firms
  • $29.3 million at the Am Law 31 to 100
  • $18.3 million at the Am Law 101 to 200
  • $4 million at the firms between the Am Law 201 and 350th largest firm

The single largest relationships are:

  • $72.1 million at the Am Law largest 30 firms
  • $73.3 million at the Am Law 31 to 100
  • $81.3 million at the Am Law 101 to 200
  • $27 million at the firms between the Am Law 201 and 350th largest firm

You can use this analysis to benchmark where you stand—and think about how these numbers may impact your strategy to grow your own version of a giga-client—whatever your size. 


*Based on in-depth BTI research conducted on a rolling basis between February 2016 and August 2016. BTI conducted more than 330 independent, individual interviews with CLOs and General Counsel at Fortune 1000 companies and large organizations, as well as 200 interviews with law firm leaders.

What Attorneys Think and What Clients Hear: A Client Communication How To

Communication: one of the biggest gripes clients have with law firms. In this month's Client Relationship Lab we'll take an in-depth look at how to communicate effectively so clients aren't left to their own imagination about what their attorneys are doing for them.

These 3 building blocks of successful client communication will help you take the first steps away from being a generic legal provider and toward becoming a trusted partner.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here:

We’ll be releasing these in-depth webisodes every month—subscribe today in the upper right hand corner—and make sure you don’t miss a single one.

GCs Say Dealing with Law Firms Tiring, Cumbersome

Your client’s time is way more valuable than money. Your clients will tolerate your higher rates and budgets much longer than you wasting their time. While clients don’t like to do it, they can rejigger budgets and apply more price pressure to future work to try to manage their overall budget. Not so with their time.

Clients tell us their time is finite. Top legal decision makers can rarely rearrange their workload and decisions to create more time—and if they could they would have already done it. Your clients are maxed out. This makes wasting clients' time an especially potent villain in destroying value. And almost every single top legal decision maker we talk to has their own take on exactly how law firms waste their time—and, it’s the little things clients think should be streamlined and easy.

Such a Slow Start

These clients talk about protracted negotiations to move from the decision to hire to starting the work, stilted communication between attorneys in the firm resulting in a multiplicity of meetings, new people joining the team who are wholly unprepared, and excessively long documents. 37% of clients see these behaviors as their biggest waste of time.

Incomprehensible Invoices

Dealing with law firm invoices is corporate counsel’s 2nd biggest time sink. 17.7% of clients think deciphering law firm bills is their biggest waste of time. These clients have little patience or sympathy for anything but a clear, easily understandable invoice. Most clients readily admit they take an indecipherable invoice and put it aside until the offending law firms call and ask about it. These same clients then ask for a detailed explanation—wasting even more time.

Errors and Mistakes

10% of clients find themselves correcting attorney work product. Few things destroy value and deflate a relationship more than errors. While clients see the raw cost—they are more concerned about the loss of their own time for what will be their scrutiny of the revised work product.

Helping the One Person with Less Time than You

With the exception of errors, you can turn each of these sink holes of client time into a value-added experience. Clients believe this time is wasted because they can’t see the value. You can reverse this perception by reversing the communication pattern. For example:

  • Tell clients about your internal meetings before they see the invoice
  • Share all the steps you will go through to start a matter—before starting the matter
  • Review anything resembling a complicated invoice with your client before sending it out
  • Use client friendly time entries so clients can see why you are doing what you are doing

If you think you don’t have the time to tell your clients what you are doing and why you are doing it—think of the only person in your life with less time than you—your client. 


*Based on in-depth BTI research conducted on a rolling basis between February 2016 and August 2016. BTI conducted more than 330 independent, individual interviews with CLOs and General Counsel at Fortune 1000 companies and large organizations.

Client Development: The Key to Dramatic Growth

This week The Mad Clientist discusses building your budget by separating out client-specific activities vs. broader initiatives to dramatically increase growth.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here:

We’ll be releasing videos here on The Mad Clientist blog every Tuesday. Subscribe today (in the box at the upper right of your screen) and be sure you don't miss a single one.

Understanding Your Client's Business = Higher Rates

The secret to large law winning more business and higher rates? Not as big a secret as you might think.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here:

We’ll be releasing videos here on The Mad Clientist blog every Tuesday. Subscribe today (in the box at the upper right of your screen) and be sure you don't miss a single one.

And later this week we'll be even delving deeper into how to understand your client's business.

GCs Name 319 Attorneys Absolutely Best at Client Service

All Stars 2017-01.png

319 attorneys from 160 law firms stand out as absolutely best at client service. Not just great—but head and shoulders above the rest as defined solely by clients. These are the BTI Client Service All-Stars 2017. This report celebrates these remarkable attorneys and their ability to rise above all others with the most demanding clients.

The class of 2017 BTI Client Service All-Stars is especially sought after by clients as their needs have shifted in response to the surge in complex work clients face. These attorneys take, and make, the time to understand their clients in-depth—their business, their objectives, and their goals. This elite group enjoys a clear cut advantage over the competition.

No attorney or firm can self-nominate, self-refer nor pay to be included. The only possible avenue for becoming a BTI Client Service All-Star is for corporate counsel to identify an attorney who stands out for delivering superior client service. BTI asked over 300 corporate counsel, in an unprompted manner, if there is an attorney who truly stands out as delivering the absolute best client service—by name. Only clients select and decide.

Highlights from the BTI Client Service All-Stars 2017 include:

All-Star MVPs—Named by Corporate Counsel in Consecutive Years

2 All-Stars have been named more than 5 consecutive years in a row:

  • Leslie A. Lanusse, Partner, Adams and Reese—7 years
  • Tom Clare, Partner, Clare Locke—5 years

In all, only 54 attorneys—a mere 17% of the All-Stars—are making repeat appearances. Corporate counsel applaud these MVPs for their skill and dedication to client service as client demands soar.

8 Super All-Stars Named in 2017

These 8 attorneys have been named by multiple clients this year:

  • William P. Aiken, Shareholder, Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel
  • James B. Manley, Jr., Partner, Dentons
  • Stephen Glover, Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
  •  Randi C. Lesnick, Partner, Jones Day
  • Jeffrey J. Lederman, Partner, Joseph & Cohen
  • Deborah A. Gitomer, Partner, Norton Rose Fulbright
  • Peter Teare, Partner, Reed Smith
  • William G. Thomas, Senior Partner, Reed Smith

Cultivating Firm-wide Success

Only 16 law firms are home to 5 or more BTI Client Service All-Stars. These firms account for 109 BTI Client Service All-Stars—suggesting a strong culture of client service which is more dominant than at other firms. 13 of these law firms are also singled out by clients in the BTI Client Service A-Team 2017, appearing on this year’s BTI Client Service 30. These 16 firms are:

 9 BTI Client Service All-Stars:

  • Dentons
  • Reed Smith

8 BTI Client Service All-Stars:

  • BakerHostetler
  • Jones Day
  • Sidley Austin
  • Skadden

7 BTI Client Service All-Stars:

  • Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Latham & Watkins

6 BTI Client Service All-Stars:

  • DLA Piper
  • Foley & Lardner
  • Ogletree Deakins

5 BTI Client Service All-Stars:

  • Cooley
  • Faegre Baker Daniels
  • Holland & Knight
  • Morgan Lewis

We congratulate each and every BTI Client Service All-Star on their ability to deliver the absolute best client service. Click here to see every attorney we celebrate for client service excellence as measured by the one source who matters most—clients.


How Clients Hire: Largest Legal Spenders Look for New Law Firms on LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s day has come. The most demanding and sophisticated Chief Legal Officers in the world are hiring new attorneys through LinkedIn.

Power Users Are the Power Spenders

Top CLOs’ hunger for new approaches leads them to LinkedIn—and to new attorneys. 21% of top legal decision makers are actively using LinkedIn to find new ideas, find new attorneys, network, and stay noticed themselves. But this is no ordinary 21%—these clients are the biggest spenders with the biggest needs. They spend twice as much on legal as other companies and 3 times the amount of those who don’t use LinkedIn.

Are you looking to get noticed? 15% of leading GCs are sharing knowledge and looking for knowledge in return. 1/3rd are looking for and reading articles. We expect these numbers to double in the next 3 years.

Firms can only attract the top decision makers with dynamic and original content—and spiffy attorney profiles. This compels law firms to beef up their content game. Attorneys can re-purpose content for LinkedIn but anything looking like an email alert is skipped over and gone forever. These decision makers only have time to scan headlines to select the articles worthy of their time.

Once read, your prospect now clicks on the attorney profile to check them out. These top clients expect to see a robust profile with lots of connections and something of interest to say. Sparse and stale profiles of an attorney not already known to them will stop these time-starved executives in their tracks. This should prompt every attorney spiff up their profile—now—and make it different from all others.   

More GCs on the Way to LinkedIn

Almost half of all GCs (48.4%) are using LinkedIn, just not to the extent of the power spenders/users discussed above. These early stage users rely on LinkedIn to research attorneys they plan to hire, and to maintain and grow their networks.

Leveraging the Growing Role of LinkedIn

LinkedIn started hitting GCs’ radars in 2015. The same recommendations apply today. Invite every single client you have worked with in the last 3 years to connect, and be sure to insert their name in the invitation to personalize the message. Send a LinkedIn invite to every potential client the same day you meet—not only will you be connected—you will appear committed, proactive, and responsive.

These connections give you the opportunity to go beyond networking to offering curated content—the tool of choice to reach the top decision makers. This alone is reason enough to handover all your contacts to your assistant and send invitations to connect with everyone you know or have met.

Showing You Have Your Finger on the Relevant Pulse

Start by posting short articles or thought pieces. All it takes is an insightful article or a connection to another respected CLO to come to the attention of these coveted potential clients.

No time? Comment on and share articles. Corporate counsel like connectors, too. Sharing articles rather than authoring them can also place you in the rarefied air of valued person to know—the first step in building a relationship.

Regular and continuous sharing will start you gaining traction. Over time, clients and potential clients will start to recognize you as having your finger on the relevant pulse and want to read the items you share. Then, and only then, will they reach out to learn more. 


*Based on in-depth BTI research conducted on a rolling basis between February 2016 and August 2016. BTI conducted more than 330 independent, individual interviews with CLOs and General Counsel at Fortune 1000 companies and large organizations.

What Clients Are Actually Using Your Website For

Your website plays 2 roles: 1 for your clients and 1 for everyone else. The Mad Clientist breaks down how large law is positioning their websites in today's marketplace.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here:

We’ll be releasing videos here on The Mad Clientist blog every Tuesday. Subscribe today (in the box at the upper right of your screen) and be sure you don't miss a single one.

And in case you missed it: The Client Relationship Lab: Webisodes with The Mad Clientist. Our first in-depth client relationship best practice covered billing: 7 Deadly Sins: Billing Practices Killing Client Relationships

The Worst of the Worst Pitches

The last we checked RFPs issued by clients were at an all-time high. This means a peak in presentations by law firms. A small number were truly excellent—blowing clients away and gaining new work for these law firms. Clients describe most as between acceptable and numbing. But, these potential clients saw a number of law firms embarrass themselves. You can understand why based on the experiences these top legal decision makers shared with BTI:

“In the middle of the presentation a slide appeared out of nowhere; it took me a minute to get oriented, but the slide showed the view of a football field—which they then told me is from the firm’s box. They told me at least one playoff game would come with these seats if I hired them.”

— General Counsel, Large Healthcare System

“They (the law firm) showed us another client’s actual work product.”

— Chief Legal Officer, Large Financial Services Firm

“On one of the first few slides they made reference to our company being ‘founded many years ago.’ They couldn’t look this up? Is this the thoroughness I should expect in litigation?”

— Division Head, Global Professional Services Powerhouse

“They started naming the judges they play golf with.”

— General Counsel, Rapidly Growing High Tech Company

“Somebody came in with 12 white men, when most of my people at the time were women and minorities. Obviously they hadn’t done their homework. I asked if we could get a more diverse team. The asked me if I wanted to win or be diverse. I told them: this is something you say to each other after you leave. Not to me.”

— EVP, Very Large Manufacturing Company

“As they were presenting, I was following along looking at their proposal; they announced a fee which was substantially higher than the fee in the proposal. I immediately asked why there was a difference, to which they responded, there was no difference. I elected not to pursue the issue.”

— VP and General Counsel, Global Industrial Equipment Company

Giving a bad pitch is dangerously easy. Success demands you not only understand core needs, but also understand the culture and chemistry of your potential client. As we discuss when identifying the law firms with the Most Marketing Mojo, the winning firms over-prepare and over-understand. In addition, the pitches going badly remind us of the safety and wisdom in talking about nothing but clients and their needs—before, during, and after the pitch.  


7 Deadly Sins: Billing Practices Killing Client Relationships

Your bill: the one communication clients are going to be invested in reviewing and understanding thoroughly.

Bills are the only factor every attorney has in common when delivering work to clients—regardless of which clients you are serving and what practice areas you are in. 

In the first installment of BTI's newest video feature—Client Relationship Lab: Webisodes with The Mad Clientist—we take an in-depth look at how to perfect billing practices to help set the right tone for the future of your client relationships.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here:

With this series we’ll be taking an in-depth look at a wide range of client relationship best practices. We’ll be releasing Client Relationship Lab webisodes on our blog every month—subscribe today (in the box at the upper right of your screen) and be sure you don't miss a single one.

Attorneys Pose Biggest Obstacle to Law Firm Growth

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”
POGO, April 20, 1970
Walt Kelly, Creator and Author

Market forces pale in comparison to attorneys as the biggest obstacle to growth at law firms. Law firm marketing leaders believe no-growth markets and ever more demanding clients have less impact than attorney resistance.

25.2% of CMOs and law firm marketing leaders name their lawyers as holding their firm back during more than 150 far-reaching interviews BTI conducted with them. This is up from 18.6% in 2014. We are in the 9th year of no growth. The pressure to develop business grows as the market becomes tougher. The attorneys who resist are fighting an increasingly uphill battle and it is the firm’s responsibility to provide the tools and training to overcome the resistance.

Much of the resistance comes from attorneys having limited to no business development experience. They are concerned about how to initiate the process, questions they might be asked, and not knowing how the process is likely to unfold if they do reach out to clients. In addition, the resisters don’t realize delivering superior client service is a potent form of business development.

The only proven tactic to remove the attorneys as obstacles to growth is to train them. We recommend training in 3 tiers:

Tier 1 – Advanced Business Development Skills for only the high-potential business developers. This training focuses on the art and science of developing large chunks of business and developing new clients.

Tier 2 – Core Business Development for the attorneys who show an inclination or interest in business development. This training introduces the tools and practicalities of developing business—including mock client meetings for conducting initial meetings and how to follow up.

Tier 3 – Client Service Training teaches all client-facing partners the skills and provides the tools to deliver superior client service—with the understanding superior client service is a potent form of business development. There are few partners who would not benefit from this training.

Your use of staggering the training by skill and inclination enables you to drive success with the attorneys most likely to be successful. It also changes the culture of the firm as the leadership illustrates how they invest in business development. Finally, the tiered approach to business development training creates incentive to become good enough to reach the most advanced training—creating a clear path to rainmaker and creating more rainmakers in the process.

The Silver Lining

We are the enemy and we are the solution. Every law firm has the power to change and overcome the obstacles in their way. And no one understands the problem better than the firms themselves. Now, every law firm can overcome these obstacles. 


Building Business Development Superstars

A proven tactic for taking share from your competitors – no matter your size: Build the business development skills of partners willing and able to deliver. And don't miss this week's Thursday post, where we'll break down the process for building business development across your firm.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here:

You can also find the Market of One video referenced in the above video here:

We’ll be releasing videos here on The Mad Clientist blog every Tuesday. Subscribe today (in the box at the upper right of your screen) and be sure you don't miss a single one.

Coming soon: The Client Relationship Lab: Webisodes with The Mad Clientist
In-depth client relationship best practices on a wide range of topics including: Talking Rates with Clients, Post-Matter Follow-Up Plans, Billing Practices, and much more…

4 Reasons Law Firms Lose Their Coveted Spot on The BTI Client Service 30

“How could we have changed? We have done so much.”

“Our score dropped and we haven’t changed a single thing in our program.”

“What made our score drop, we have made client service a real priority?”

2017 saw 53% of The BTI Client Service 30 drop off the list and be replaced by other firms who are on the rise. This change—the biggest in 10 years—prompted a wave of questions from law firms (see the samples above) to BTI when we released The 2017 BTI Client Service 30 along with the BTI Client Service A-Team 2017. These firms want to know how their performance, or any client service performance, can change when they have been working so hard to develop a client service culture at their firms. The answers come in 4 major categories:

Changing Client Needs

Your clients’ needs change every 18 to 24 months—like clockwork. Law firms fall in and out of alignment with client goals on a regular basis. The law firms who align themselves with and support client goals will see client service improve. Law firms who don’t align themselves see their client service performance decline when client goals change and the law firm becomes out of step. The only tool available to learn clients’ ever-changing goals is to ask once and confirm often.

Competitor Behavior

Competitor law firms have a large impact on your client service ranking and performance. Numerous law firms serving your clients will initiate and invest in client service programs. These investments tend to boost scores and rankings for the firm making the changes and push rankings of competitors down. However, many law firms will not maintain this investment and will see their scores drop when the client service program loses steam—therefore leading a new round of competitors to rank higher.

Sporadic versus Enduring Client Service Initiatives

A select number of law firms start client service initiatives every year. They treat these programs as annual initiatives instead of an ongoing part of the business. This temporary investment results in surges in client service which garner high rankings in the year implemented and much lower rankings when the program ends and firm partners no longer show the same enthusiasm for client service.

Rising Client Expectations—The Better You Get the More Clients Expect

Clients have high expectations for law firm client service. And, they only get higher. Once a client experiences their law firm’s improved client service they expect improvement to accelerate. Law firms who do not continually improve their client service delivery will see their rankings drop as they no longer meet client expectations. This makes you look like your performance has dropped and makes competitors look better by comparison.

You can increase your client service strength through well-designed client feedback. “Feel good” client feedback where firms ask how they are doing won’t give you a clue. The feedback which probes performance against competitors—both quantitatively and qualitatively—will tell you exactly where you stand, what you need to do, and brings the added benefit of motivating the daylights out of attorneys. You will also be using the same type of feedback used by the long-term best-performing firms.

We discussed how and why client service changes and what the long-term leaders do differently during our annual webinar—BTI’s Market Outlook and Client Service Review 2017—which you can view here: If you would like to discuss how to integrate this kind of high-powered client feedback into your firm to drive new business and improve client service contact me here.


Reallocating Your Marketing and Business Development Budget

The Mad Clientist discusses ways your firm can keep up with Big Law marketing and business development budgets in today's Mad Clientist Minute.

And don't miss an extended discussion of law firm marketing and business development budgets, client service tactics, and our annual overview of today's market in BTI's Market Outlook and Client Service Review 2017 this Thursday, January 12. Register here.

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