7 Stages of the Best Marketing & Business Development Performances

Law firm performance falls into 7 distinct stages based on how many of the 10 power marketing practices each firm adopts. Each law firm falls along a spectrum of marketing and business development behaviors defining how far you’ve come—or how far you have to go. The firms who have adopted more of the tactics show better performance—and in the case of the Pacesetters: vastly better.

Setting the Pace for Law Firms

The Pacesetters, at 10.8% of law firms, currently enjoy 8 times the growth with their top clients than other law firms. Most law firms are showing flat growth in the most important part of their client base; the Pacesetters are making substantial gains with the best and most important source of revenue. But the benefits don’t end here—these Pacesetters boast 4 times the growth in profits per attorney over the last 3 years. These firms are defining the leading edge of performance and show no signs of letting up.

We found pacesetting performance at large, medium-sized, and smaller law firms. The common denominator: they adopt at least 9 of the 10 power practices and integrate these into their firms. The power practices include both infrastructure and behaviors, and Pacesetters have learned to integrate these tactics into revenue-generating machines.

6 groups of law firms stand behind the Pacesetters. These are, starting with the stronger performances:

BelieversClosing in on the Pacesetters

Believers have progressed to adopt 6-7 of these tactics. These firms are in a position to catch the Pacesetters (who have adopted 9 or 10 of the pacesetting tactics) if they can add 2 more tactics to their MBD approach and integrate these new approaches into their firms. We found just as many Believers as Pacesetters at 10.8% of all law firms.

The StridersPoised to Move Forward

Striders are strong performers. The Striders build on their infrastructure and processes to position themselves to quickly move to a market-leading position—if they act. These firms have embraced 4 to 5 of the market-leading MBD tactics, which is just not enough horsepower to drive the firmwide growth or growth in the top client base. BTI’s analysis shows 16.2% of law firms are Striders.

Task MastersReady to Commit

At 24.3% of all firms—Task Masters are the single largest group. These firms have taken the first steps for law firms looking to grow, but have not pulled them together in a cohesive strategy. These firms have successfully implemented 3-4 of the core market-leading MBD tactics. They have focused on discrete strategies and tactics proven to drive pockets of strategic growth and would benefit greatly from adopting more of the 10 power practices.

DabblersStill Getting Their Feet Wet

As a group, Dabblers have adopted a few of the key strategic MBD activities (such as dedicated client teams and tracking client retention), but have not built out the infrastructure or depth market success demands. These firms are less formal in their approach with attorneys and MBD practices in general—only occasionally adopting one of the 10 power practices. Dabblers reap few of the financial rewards enjoyed by their cohorts.

NomadsTrying to Find Their Way

Nomads have adopted only 1-2 of the core MBD activities proven to drive growth and bigger client relationships. These firms are beginning to take steps towards a more advanced law firm growth strategy, but are informal, decentralized, and operate with a small set of tactics. The perils for this group are great as they begin their journey, but the opportunity greater. The risk of not moving forward dwarfs the risk of making changes  to move up the curve. Approximately 11% of law firm are Nomads.

Cave People

14% of law firms are have yet to adopt any of the 10 core marketing and business development tactics proven to drive growth—these are the Cave People. This group has neither a formal strategy nor an established set of tactics they rely on to drive growth. This group doesn’t believe in developing a systematic approach to marketing and business development. The Cave People will find success more and more difficult to achieve unless they change their approach.

Where You Are and What This Means

Almost every law firm is working to get an edge in the market. From adding laterals to launching new websites and adding a new CRM, law firms make changes to help them grow. These steps are valuable, but strategies and tactics sit at the epicenter of growth. 40% of firms (Striders and Task Masters) have some of the building blocks and infrastructure in place. This means about ½ of all law firms have significantly fewer power marketing practices in place—and, the firms with the most power practices will ultimately separate themselves from the pack. The number and nature of the tactics you adopt will define who you are, your growth—and your profits.

Learn exactly what steps to take to make it to the top with BTI’s newest report, BTI Guide to Maximum Marketing & Business Development 2017, where you'll see the details on what the top performers are doing differently than everyone else—and step-by-step tactics for how you can implement, and improve, these programs at your firm.

MBR

And don't miss the posts from this week's Marketing and Business Development Week:

Climbing the Marketing and Business Development Mountain [Infographic]

Learn exactly what steps to take to make it to the top with BTI’s newest report, BTI Guide to Maximum Marketing & Business Development 2017, where you'll see the details on what the top performers are doing differently than everyone else—and step-by-step tactics for how you can implement, and improve, these programs at your firm.

Are You Pursuing the Right Clients?

Cracking the code to business development offers significant financial benefits. So why have only a select few—10.8% of all law firms—figured out a marketing and business development strategy to drive faster growth and build bigger relationships than other firms.

Jennifer Dezso, BTI Principal, walks through the first marketing & business development strategy to implement or improve on to join this elite group: selecting and pursuing specific target clients and prospects. 

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/6znpUGtEZWE

For more information or details on this new report, please visit: http://www.bticonsulting.com/marketing-and-business-development-strategies.

What Sets Top Performing Law Firms Apart? [Infographic]

Learn exactly what steps to take to get started on (or improve your firm's use of) the top performing marketing and business development strategies with BTI’s newest report, BTI Guide to Maximum Marketing & Business Development 2017, where you'll see the details on what the top performers are doing differently than everyone else—and step-by-step tactics for how you can implement these programs at your firm.

The 10 Secrets of Pacesetting Law Firms

Only 10 marketing tactics really matter. Out of the dozens of tactics, protocols, and activities available—there are 10 driving superior performance. Time and money at every firm are always at a premium, and everyone—from Managing Partners to Marketing Coordinators—is looking for the secret sauce to stretch every last dollar and every last hour. The firms using the 10 marketing “must-haves” have found the formula to outperform everyone else.

BTI analyzed 160 law firms using more than 25 performance metrics. We then analyzed performance over a 5-year period to eliminate luck and unique, nonrecurring events. Firms embracing a client-focused approach to the market enjoy 8 times the growth with their top clients than other law firms while also growing profits per attorney 3.7 times faster than other firms.

The 10 strategies below drive these outsized performances:

1.  Targeting the Best Clients and Prospects
Revenue growth for firms targeting specific clients and opportunities is 10x–15x higher than it is for firms not taking this approach. Targeting specific clients enables firms to better understand the individual opportunities they are pursuing and craft customized messaging to these clients—increasing the odds of closing new business.

2.  Client Teams—With the Money to Make Them Work
While client teams have long been a structure used by firms to improve client relationships, only 44% of firms have given these teams dedicated budgets to invest real money and time in growing the client relationship. Dedicated budgets fund the activities helping firms make their largest client relationships even bigger—nearly 8 times larger than the firms who don’t make this additional investment in their client team program.

3.  Listening to Clients with Systematic, Objective Client Feedback
The ROI for law firms conducting formal client feedback is staggering: when firms conduct formal client feedback across a broad swath of their clients, relationships with the firm’s largest clients are 4x–6x larger than firms not taking the time to reach out and objectively listen to their clients. What firms learn from a formal client feedback interview gives them the information they need to exceed clients’ ever-rising expectations, better serve clients, and outpace competitors vying to get new business.

4.  Client Service Standards—Words to Live By
Client service standards are a small set of high-impact protocols defining what the client’s experience with every single person at a firm should look like. When firms adopt—and truly live by—these standards, their growth in profits per attorney is 1.5x higher than firms not applying a consistent client service experience across their firm.

5.  Spending Money to Grow
On average, the typical large law firm dedicates 2.5% of the firm’s revenue to marketing and business development. The best-performing firms boost this investment to 2.8%—nearly $8,000 more per attorney—in order to win more work than others.

6.  Spending Time to Grow
The Managing Partners at the top-performing firms spend more than 50% of their time on direct client development activities. The result of these efforts: nearly 2x higher revenue growth and 3.5x higher growth in profits per attorney. The amount of time a firm’s Managing Partner spends on client development is a proxy for how committed a firm is to soliciting input from clients and ensuring their clients’ needs are being met.

7.  The Power of a Formal, Written Marketing & Business Development Strategy
When firms have written objectives and definitions of success in place, relationships with the firms' largest clients are 5x larger than firms without a formal strategy. Additionally, revenue growth is more than 15% higher for firms with a plan for how they want to draw in and keep clients. Having a formal, written marketing & business development (MBD) strategic plan provides a sense of direction and outlines measurable goals for everyone within the firm to use as a guidepost.

8.  Dogmatically Tracking Client Retention
The firms measuring their success at keeping and developing existing clients enjoy 16.5% higher revenue growth and their client relationships are 2x larger than firms not tracking their client retention rates.

9.  Including Goals for MBD in the Firm’s Strategic Plan
Focus the energy, resources, and time of everyone at the firm around the marketing and business development actions required to successfully execute the strategic plan. The firms embracing this approach have seen nearly double the revenue growth of firms not including the MBD goals in the firm’s strategic plan.

10.  The Buck Stops with a Single Individual
Less than 15% of firms have a single individual accountable for the firm’s client service delivery. This often overlooked activity has substantial payoffs for firms. Having an individual committed to ensuring the firm is delivering the highest levels of client service results in 8% higher profit growth per attorney and larger client relationships—nearly 8x larger than firms without an individual assigned to this role.

Each of the above activities on its own substantially impacts a firm’s financial performance, but putting them together forms the most effective toolkit of marketing and business development activities to drive the type of performance few firms achieve. Your competitors might be working on each of these right now. If you’re not, which activity are you going to start with?

Learn exactly what steps to take to get started with BTI’s newest report, BTI Guide to Maximum Marketing & Business Development 2017. We share the details on what the top performers are doing differently than everyone else—and step-by-step tactics for how you can implement these programs at your firm.

MBR

Clients Want to Know: Are You Here to Help Me or to Bill Hours

While most attorneys are there to help their clients, they may also be sending loud, unintended messages that derail their client relationships. The Mad Clientist runs through a few scenarios where attorneys are inadvertently telling clients they don't want to work with them. 

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/mwaJUM-LhiI

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.

Business Development Bloopers and Blunders: References

More top legal officers are hiring new law firms than ever. In most cases, clients are hiring firms with whom they have never worked. At the same time the number of law firms CLOs recommend to their peers has declined. The dearth of peer recommendations and lack of experience with the firms are driving these potential clients to check references more than ever before.

Let’s set the stage. You have toiled to prepare the proposal. You have made it through the gauntlet of questions and requests for additional (and often highly detailed) information. You have presented and made your case. You have convinced a potential client you just might be the one. And then…they ask you for references.

Top legal decision makers often share many of their law firm experiences with me as I conduct client feedback interviews and moderate panels. These potential law firm clients tell me they get some pretty remarkable answers from partners when they request references. Decide for yourself below:

“Why?”

“We only give references when we know you are truly going to hire us so we don't bother our clients.”

“We feel our reputation speaks for itself.”

“My work is so sensitive I don’t feel comfortable disclosing who they are.”

“Can it be from a different practice – it will speak to our culture.”

“Can you tell me what you plan to ask them?”

“How much time do I have to get them to you?”

“Frankly, when you reach the status of being a leader in this firm you don't need references.”

Advantages of the Instant Reference

The rainmakers and client-savvy partners always have a list of references at the ready. Instant references show you are prepared, confident, and can anticipate where things might go. Having a set of go-to references also shows you have happy clients who will vouch for you at a moment’s notice. (Of course, you have already asked for permission.)

An answer such as: “Sure, here they are,” or “Can I email these over to you,” or even “Please wait a day before you call them so I can give them a heads-up,” is good with potential clients. Anything else will ensure you don’t get the work. 

MBR

Do You Know How Many Competitors You Really Have?

Your clients are working with way more law firms than most realize—and not only that—clients compare you to each of these competitors every time you work with them. Learn how to change your thinking...and change your client relationships.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/07paOv2zsmc

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.

Highest Rates Clients Pay Hit a Wall

The top hourly rate paid for an attorney just hit a wall.

And, this market-topping rate is exposing a few cracks in the wall, if not the very foundation itself. Clients identify $2,000 as the top rate they pay for outside counsel—identical to 2016. This means the 8% annual growth for the top rate paid for the last 10 years is over.*

Not Meeting Clients’ Heady Highest Rate Expectations

First, the bad news—the inability to deliver at the top rates isn’t just a client disappointment—it’s a deal breaker. There is only one reason clients say these otherwise excellent attorneys aren’t worth it—they don’t meet clients’ lofty expectations. Top legal decision makers tell us:

“At this rate I expect my attorney to walk on water, not get their feet wet, and be thinking only about me while they do it. I only needed to hear ‘you’re next on my list’ once and I knew it was over,” says one CLO at a large global consumer products company.

“I expect this attorney to be thinking about things I haven’t ever thought of and bring the strategies to deal with them before I bring it up,” says another top-level client.

“This attorney is excellent but is a step or 2 from amazing. So we will be parting ways when this is over,” indicates a top legal decision maker at a large financial institution, with some level of resignation in his voice.

When You Are Worth More Than the Top of the Market

But, there is some good news—just about half of the clients paying these top rates think this hourly fee is worthwhile. The half who report receiving the highest value at the highest rates talk about 4 key attributes:

  • Total command of the situation—a deep and penetrating understanding of goals and what needs to be done to get there
  • The top rate earner is backed by a team where every single person is equally impressive—not a weak link to be seen or heard
  • Seemingly never having to ask questions—attorneys at the top end of the market always look ahead, make sure their clients are in the know, and are 2 steps ahead of client questions
  • Timely invoices with updates and explanations of what it’s for and what the next invoice might look like

In the words of a top executive at a global pharmaceutical company, “Our lead attorney has such command of our complicated deal, but he was backed by one of the most impressive collaborative teams. I felt the top rate was worth it to have this team working on this deal. The cost of the top attorney was low despite the high rate.”

Or this description from a CLO at a Fortune 100 company: “This was high stakes, very high. I had updates every morning and he always kept me in a position to field calls from my CEO. You just knew he knew what was needed when and it all just went so smoothly.”

Top Rates Change the Client Expectation Game

Clients always have high expectations, but the rules of the game change at the super-premium end of the market. Clients ratchet what they expect to new unseen heights, and meeting these ever-increasing expectations may be the hardest part of delivering value.

There is no turning back. If you don’t deliver on client expectations at the top of the market—reasonable or not—the relationship is likely toast. But, the most client-savvy attorneys in the world know how to manage client expectations, however high and unreasonable, and end up with the top rates, top value, and the top clients.

MBR

*Based on in-depth BTI research conducted on a rolling basis between February 2016 and April 2017. BTI conducted more than 340 independent, individual interviews with CLOs and General Counsel at Fortune 1000 companies and large organizations.

Client Interviews with Managing Partners only Scratch the Surface

With your competitors out interviewing wide swaths of their clients, firms who stick solely to Managing Partner interviews are missing out on a catalyst for firm-wide change.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/koatZ1Odmvs

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 Most Underrated Trends in Legal Marketing

The best opportunity for growth lies in getting more business with existing clients. The typical law firm can triple the amount of business they get from a single top client. Yet, this is the least appreciated approach to the market.

Client Development Is Used So Little and Offers So Much

The single biggest underrated trend in legal marketing today is client development—by a factor of more than 2. This dovetails with the large number of CMOs who see broad market outreach as overrated and who want to be more focused in their approach. Client development includes the following key tactics:

  • Systematic objective client feedback
  • Client teams and team activities backed by a budget
  • Developing client-specific CLEs and tools
  • Training clients in key issues
  • Training the client team in client preferences and business issues
  • In-person client visits

These may be viewed as underrated because the best-performing firms (from a revenue and profits standpoint) are using these tactics with great success. But, they are generally flying under the radar at most firms. You can start your client development initiative by finding the partners who believe—every firm has them—and build on your success.

Social Media—Love It or Hate It

Social media is the most polarizing of the trends. 13.1% of CMOs see social media as an underrated trend versus 21% who see it as overrated.

Wondering who is right? Start following the attorneys who blog, tweet, or post videos on a regular and systematic basis—at least weekly. Then watch for those attorneys who are thematic and have a story to tell. If the social media outreach continues over time, then you can be sure some kind of high-quality lead flow is behind it. Social media is too much work for no results.

Many legal marketers (and attorneys) have high expectations for their social media outreach—with more than one CMO expecting overnight success. The instant nature of social media defies the amount of time and effort success actually demands. Those who say social media is underrated have built the infrastructure to support the social media efforts and developed the ecosystem to bring in big-time results—including new clients they didn’t expect to get.

Ultimately, we think a small number of law firms and attorneys will get big results from social media. These social media winners will carve out a differentiated brand, a following, and the most attractive clients—because the best clients make it their business to know who the legal thought leaders are—and want to do business with them.

Where the Most Underrated Trend Is Internally Focused

22% of law firm marketing leaders believe bringing work process redesign to their departments is bringing vastly unrecognized rewards. CMOs have too much work and too many deadlines. With processes in place they are able to unlock new levels of productivity. This, in turn, makes their work life happier and they’re able to find more time to devote to higher-level activities. They are using the time to help practices with their strategies and other client-facing initiatives.

These internal work processes include embracing proposal automation, content management (especially for rankings and directories), embedding experience databases in proposal development tools, and more. Not every firm is willing to invest, but the investors can feel the boost.

Is the Sun Setting on Broad Market Outreach?

CMOs don’t want to rely on broad market outreach as their driving force. They clearly want to focus on clients—and specific clients. This includes strategic account programs, client teams, and industry teams. These tactics include strategic prospecting and much more strategic use of content than is in the market today. And finally, it is hard to see success without social media playing a role.

BTI has been helping firms inside and outside of law develop and implement client-centric programs for 27 years. I welcome the opportunity to help you move the over/under to a winning bet. You can reach me directly at mrynowecer@bticonsulting.com to discuss options for your firm. 

MBR

*This research is based on interviews with more than 180 law firm marketing leaders conducted over the last 12 months.

Post-Matter Follow-Up Plan—Phase 1: BTI's Client Relationship Lab

Business development with your current clients isn't something that only happens when a new matter is on the horizon. Successful business development starts immediately after your current matter closes.

In this month's BTI Client Relationship Lab we share the first part of a 3-phase plan for continuing post-matter follow up with your client, including a detailed agenda to drive your conversation.

You can view the video by clicking the image below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/GuaGo8pncNo

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.

Surprise: Directories Not the Most Overrated Marketing Tactic

Who knew?

Common wisdom would tell you the annual holiday card and rankings are the bane of a CMO’s existence. Not true. It turns out broad market outreach is the single most overrated and underperforming trend in marketing today. Our research with law firm marketing leaders shows broad market outreach must be especially unproductive as they see this as more overrated than rankings, which come in 2nd, with social media coming in 3rd. Here’s why:

1. Broad Market Outreach

Shouting out to a wide range of potential clients is tiring and deceptively expensive; yet, it’s 43% of the legal marketing budget. CMOs will tell you it has to be done because partners demand it (and it is easy to confuse having a large crowd on a webinar with marketing success). CMOs know this is not success—it is the tip of the iceberg in the work required to actually attract a new, meaningful client.

But let’s not pick on webinars solely. Broad market outreach includes brochures, sponsorships, monographs, and email alerts. If it’s nonspecific outreach it’s in here.

CMOs who have managed to limit their broad market outreach do so in small steps. They’ve found ways to convert practice leaders and partners to their way of thinking—one at time. These law firm marketing leaders keep detailed records on outreach bringing in clients versus outreach generating attendance. They then argue the partner is better off with clients than attendance. It may be a slow approach—but this is the long game which will win. And, once you persuade one partner to convert broad outreach to something more targeted, your 2nd conversion will be less difficult—and the 3rd will be less difficult yet.

2. The Biggest Surprise: Rankings Are Only the 2nd Most Overrated Trend

Rankings will haunt CMOs for their whole career because of the level of preparation required. Partners like to send the listings to clients to help branding. Firm leadership use rankings to show attorneys where they stand and how things may have changed. Attorneys especially relish having rankings in their bios and for proposals—the winners see them as one more point of differentiation.

Rankings can make certain clients feel better about hiring your firm or an attorney; however, rankings will rarely drive the hiring process. A number of clients may check attorney bios after they have made the hiring decision and feel a bit better when they see some sort of distinction. Rankings will increase a client’s confidence before they get to know you, and will also confirm they’re smart once you have the relationship.

3. Social Media

21% of CMOs can’t see a way to break through the clutter of content flying through the legal ether. These CMOs don’t believe clients pay attention to social media. They also don’t believe their attorneys have the discipline to implement the kind of systematic program which can break through the clutter in a meaningful way.

Social media is still the Wild West for attorneys and corporate counsel alike. We also see more small firms embracing social media as a way to gain a big voice.

Overrated Trends Point to New Thinking

These overrated activities reveal new insight into CMO thinking. Law firm marketers are looking for ways to up their game—including finding places with better odds of generating business. A number of CMOs tell us the primary reason these activities are overrated is they play too big a role in their marketing mix. They want to move their firms to embrace more effective, innovative approaches to developing clients and marketing the firm.

On the other side of the coin, law firm marketing leaders share their underrated trends—strategies which don’t get enough airplay but deliver better returns. We will discuss these next week—stay tuned or subscribe now.

MBR

*This research is based on interviews with more than 180 law firm marketing leaders conducted over the last 12 months.

 

Winning the AFA Game

Learn the 6 steps law firms take to win the AFA game in this week's Mad Clientist Minute.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/NO5cIfWOsV4

You can view the first video in our AFA series—Spending Under AFAs Soars, Are Your Clients Using Them?—here: https://youtu.be/-fTAcgjdMjw

And the second video—The Benefits of AFAs for Bet-the-Company Work—here: https://youtu.be/5iDtaRm_lTc

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.

CLOs to Law Firms: Fix Your Client Service or We’re Leaving

A top legal officer at a Fortune 50 company shared the following with me during a feedback interview:

“I called my law firm, the one I have spent the most money with for years, with a cybersecurity question. My partner told me the firm had just issued an email alert on the topic. Frankly, I expected an offer to meet with the former top government official the firm brought into the practice—which was not forthcoming.”

“This just took the wind right out of my sails,” she went on. “I ended up asking my partner to arrange for a meeting with the new lateral partner but was so disappointed my partner didn’t offer it up. He just wasn’t thinking in a personal way. In my view, he took the lazy route. I was completely unnerved because if this is the attitude he has in my litigation, I am in deep trouble.”

Clients Want to Believe You Will Deliver

Clients turn to their law firms for help. Not just any law firm—but their primary and major law firms—the ones who have the most to gain and the most invested in the relationship. The client service opportunity is there for a primary law firm to lose. And lose they do.

Top legal officers only recommended 32.7% of their primary law firms to a peer in an unprompted manner in 2016, down from 40.1% the year before.* The biggest reason for the drop is their law firms’ inability to, or in some cases a decision not to, help with the new and pressing issues. To be fair, no law firm actually says “I’m not interested in helping you.” But their behavior does.

The challenge in earning your clients’ unprompted recommendation to a peer lies in anticipating needs, educating clients, and acting before clients ask. This is not limited to the big, rock-my-world issues. Clients wonder why their top law firms don’t offer up a budget before being asked, share staffing plans, or offer to introduce new high‑profile laterals. Clients especially wonder why they weren’t offered a customized CLE session like their peer got from their law firm.

Most law firms don’t approach clients to discuss the new complex matters dominating clients’ thoughts. These firms are passively screaming they don’t care—at least not as much as one of the 36 other law firms with whom your clients work.

The solution to these passive behaviors is to engage with clients and think at least 3 steps ahead. Ask your clients what concerns them and when clients ask questions, think of the most forward-looking response.

Regaining the Client Service Upper Hand

A BTI client learned through client feedback they were viewed as one of the passive firms above. This firm took a group of senior partners and asked them to list all major client inquiries and questions for the next 4 months. After the time was up, the group reviewed the client questions and suggested responses and actions which they thought would exceed client expectations. Interestingly, all the partners could suggest vast improvements on the other partners’ responses. So, they knew what to do but could not apply it to their own behaviors. The answer lies in training ourselves to always improve and ask: How can I make my action/response/suggestion/interaction better? Better than all others.

MBR

*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.

The Benefits of AFAs for Bet-the-Company Work

Companies with Bet-the-Company work are searching for ways to deal with these matters while not getting any additional budget for them. See how introducing AFAs to your clients can save them money to help cover the Bet-the-Company matters.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/5iDtaRm_lTc

You can also view the first video in our AFA series—Spending Under AFAs Soars, Are Your Clients Using Them?—here: https://youtu.be/-fTAcgjdMjw

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.

Why New Work Goes to Other Law Firms and Not to You

BTI Average Number of Law Firms Used 2017.png

CLOs, and their in-house teams, now work with 37 law firms in total—down from 42 in 2015*. This is the 3rd smallest law firm roster clients have used in 16 years. Not only have clients cut 5 firms entirely, they have also replaced another 3.

This is a stark reminder of how competitive life is at large clients. You face at least 26 potential competitors—if not more—at virtually every single client. In the middle market with smaller clients, BTI research shows these decision makers using 9 law firms on their roster—down from 12 firms a short 2 years ago.

Every time you interact with your client—whether you deliver a document, answer a question, return a call—your client compares what you do to one of these other firms. Competition—and the client service separating one law firm from another—does not hit harder than this.

Clients Auditioning New Law Firms

This pattern where clients are replacing firms can only mean one thing: clients are auditioning new law firms for substantive work. This alone is a warning to all law firms—your client has someone in the wings who may just be your understudy.

Clients are making these changes because they are not getting what they want from their current law firms. In some cases clients’ needs change. For example—bet-the-company work has quadrupled over the last 3 years, clients are experiencing bigger class actions, and labor and employment keep growing—not to mention the surge in cybersecurity. Any firm who fails to educate clients about how they can help with these new matters is not considered for the new work—as the most aggressive firms are educating clients before a need arises.

Law firms are often blindsided by client changes in their law firm rosters. Most firms neither conduct client feedback nor track the billing trends. In addition, the “one and done” attitude among lawyers is so pervasive they think it is normal for work to tail off—despite client’s annual budgets ranging from $10 million to hundreds of millions of dollars.

You have 2 strategic options: give up or make this a business development opportunity. Ask clients their goals in reducing their law firm ranks (hint: the most likely answer is the search for more value and the cumbersome nature of managing many law firms), which needs they are trying to meet, and what the underlying factors are making your clients go through all this work.

You can suggest strategies for parceling out the work, organizing client dockets in key practice areas, and offer new ways to group together services. Using clients’ cuts in outside counsel management to develop more business plays right into your client’s hand—they want value, you want their business. 

MBR

*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.

Spending Under AFAs Soars, Are Your Clients Using Them?

Clients, by and large, don't want to put the effort into understanding your AFAs, yet spending on AFAs is soaring. See what makes the biggest difference in client's use of AFAs.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/-fTAcgjdMjw

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 Law Firms Best at Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity and data privacy is the fastest growing segment of outside counsel spending. It is also the biggest issue keeping clients awake at night. Clients are placing heavy focus on forward-looking, as well as current, cybersecurity issues.

Law firms have been jockeying for position as the market has developed over the last 5 years. And now, clients see a group emerging as the best.

Leading cybersecurity law firms are proactively taking a ground-up approach. They are starting with hosting client-specific briefings educating clients on the business implications and risks—and then focusing on the legal details. Still other firms are finding their ways to Boards to help them understand their risk and exposure.

The firms with the best understanding of the client, and who communicate cybersecurity risk in business terms, win the work for the counselling—and this is the opening for the rest of the cybersecurity-related work.

Please join us in congratulating the following law firms clients identify as leading the charge in cybersecurity:

Best at Cybersecurity:

Baker McKenzie
Dentons
DLA Piper
Gibson Dunn
Jones Day
Latham & Watkins
Skadden

Cybersecurity Leaders:

BakerHostetler
Cleary Gottlieb
Cooley
Covington
Cravath, Swaine & Moore
Davis Polk
Dechert
Eversheds Sutherland
Fried Frank
Greenberg Traurig
Hogan Lovells
Hunton & Williams
K&L Gates
Kirkland & Ellis
Locke Lord
McGuireWoods
Paul Hastings
Polsinelli
Reed Smith
Sidley
Sullivan & Cromwell
Weil
White & Case

You can learn more about the law firms corporate counsel name as best in cybersecurity, including the 56 law firms named to the Honor Roll of Cybersecurity Firms—as well as what clients are looking for from their law firms—in our new, complimentary report: BTI Law Firms Best at Cybersecurity 2017: Corporate Counsel Rank the Law Firms Leading the Charge on Change.

Informal vs. Formal Client Communication: BTI Client Relationship Lab

Formal communications MAINTAIN relationships. Informal communications GROW relationships. Not only are the best relationships we have with clients heavily weighted in informal communications, these informal discussions are gateways to new work.  

In this month's BTI Client Relationship Lab we share a case study of successful informal communication, as well as the number one reason clients switch law firms.

You can view the video by clicking the image below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/do4BYox-dPs

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.