And the Winner of Best Strategy Is...

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Law firms love to measure the growth. Not so much for market share.

Market share gains or losses tell you how much business and the extent of clients you gained or lost versus other firms. You can add a whole new dimension to your strategic performance by looking at profits at the same time. Profits tell you how much capital you have available to invest—in talent, technology, clients, and other key areas. The firms who gain more clients and generate more profits than anyone else on a regular and sustained basis have a clear advantage.

Even though the legal market is growing again, success still demands law firms steal clients in order to create the kind of growth which attracts talent, creates opportunity, and draws clients to your firm.

Only a small number law firms—12%—register big gains with big profits on a continuing basis. Another 14% are investing to earn these big gains and profits. 40% are losing share with lower-than-average profits. The rest are somewhere in between.

Stealing Clients and Making More Money than Anyone Else

12% of law firms are not just growing—they are taking clients and market share. These Pacesetters are generating superior profits—4 to 6 times better than everyone else. Everyone can learn a thing or 2 from these firms—no matter who you are.

The Pacesetters are using client-centric strategies. They are focusing on growing their existing clients and investing in only a few selected markets, practices, and clients—all with discipline and strategic patience. They are top client service performers—but that’s not enough—Pacesetters are committed to getting even better at client service. Pacesetters know exactly who their clients are and what they want. Better strategy, adding more clients than everyone else, and making more money while doing it—this is the business trifecta.

To learn who these firms are and more about their strategies, join us for today’s webinar: The BTI Market Outlook and Client Service Review 2018, at Noon Eastern (Click here to register).

Losing More Clients and Making Less Money

40% of law firms are giving up clients and share. These firms are shrinking or eking out minimal growth. Either way—they are giving up business and clients to competitors. These firms are the Followers. Follower strategies are the opposite of the Pacesetters. These strategies focus on the firm before markets, they market to broad groups of practices equally, and cast a wide net for clients—all of which make it harder to connect with clients or grow your market share.

Investing for the Biggest Gains

14% of law firms, the Investors, are making big investments to drive growth and market share gains. These firms are investing in client-facing programs, industry teams, client feedback and provocative content, and are reaching out to clients. They have one goal—become a Pacesetter. They are spending profits now for bigger clients, new clients, and bigger profits to come.

Harvesting the Gold

The Gold Miners enjoy outstanding profits but are slowly losing clients and share. These firms, some of whom have mega prestige brands, are losing clients—especially to the Pacesetters—who are much more aggressive in seeking out and cultivating prime clients. Gold Miners have some of the best clients, but they largely position themselves as destination firms clients will seek out. But other firms are starting conversations with these clients when the need arises—slowly taking business. The Gold Miners will sense this loss of clients at some point—driving a pivot to a client‑centric strategy or merger.

As we will discuss in our webinar at Noon EST today—the Pacesetters have increased their gains while firms losing share are losing more at a faster pace over the last 10 years. The Gold Miners are making more money but losing more clients. The gap between the Pacesetters and everyone else is growing daily.

The legal market has entered the 4th distinct phase of growth since the financial crisis. At this point, the most successful strategies place clients at the epicenter of their world, and build out from there. The more the market changes the more one thing remains the same—clients and the client experience drive short- and long-term success.


How Clients Hire: Top Clients Impose Law Firm Hiring Moratorium

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A group of forward-looking top legal decision makers have stopped hiring new law firms.

“I am tired of spending my time listening to the same old story. They all say the same things. There is no point. It isn’t like I don’t know what I am going to get. I’ll work with the firms I have,” explains an SVP of a large financial services company. If your firm hasn’t done any work for these clients in the recent past, you don’t exist.

While representing no more than 15% of clients—they control more than 30% of US legal spending.* Their plan: Drive the law firms with whom they want to work into better performance. These clients plan to:

  • Initiate discussions about legal strategy for key matters
  • Ask for options before getting too deep into a matter
  • Convince law firms to adopt tools to get things done with budget predictability
  • Keep their law firms advised of their plans to help them be prepared for what’s coming
  • Give feedback—regularly. Clients plan to point out inconsistencies in service and delivery and tell you exactly where and how to improve—mostly in process and communication

Your client is unlikely to announce this new change. And, they will only engage with a few of their firms. Clients don’t have the time or energy to drive change at all their law firms. Only a few firms will emerge stronger and larger as the decision makers gravitate to the top performers and those who embrace their changes.

You can pick up on the clues quickly through well designed client feedback. The non-feedback firms will have to pay close attention to every client request and communication to be able to try to figure out what clients want.

The only safe bet to be one of the chosen few is to behave as though your large client is going to develop a better and bigger relationship with you—and YOU initiate the feedback process. We recommend starting with fresh and broad feedback from everyone with whom you work at your large clients. This means many interviews at a single large client (our record at BTI is 39 individuals at a single client, so far).

Analyze the feedback and share the results with attorneys serving your client. Then—be daring—share the major findings with your clients along with suggestions for how you plan to improve. Ask your clients for their suggestions. Then—change.

If you need help developing the questions, tools to analyze the insight, or recommendations, please feel free to reach me at

At the same time, treat any requests to attend client meetings about operations, upcoming plans, and almost any other topic as a juicy invitation to be briefed on how to get more business.


PS. Don't miss out on our upcoming Market Outlook and Client Service Review webinar on January 18 at Noon Eastern. You can learn more or register here.

*Based on BTI research conducted on a rolling basis between February 2017 and December 2017. BTI conducted more than 350 independent, individual interviews with CLOs and General Counsel at Fortune 1000 companies and large organizations.

Aggressively Growing Your Highest Quality Clients

In this month's Client Relationship Lab, BTI Principal Jennifer Dezso shows you how to make sure you're aggressively growing and protecting your business with your highest quality clients. This client development plan is a tool to help you zero in on the clients who make the most sense for you to pursue, as well as a strategy for building your book of business with these clients.

You can view the video by clicking the image 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.

Superstitions and Customs to Guide or Haunt Your New Year

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A certain rock star litigator will wear 1 of only 2 ties when delivering closing arguments. He may add a new tie to this elite collection, but, only if he has success in less serious matters enough times for it to earn its keep as a good-luck tie.

A top rainmaker confesses she always wears her good-luck pin when visiting clients. And she always leaves with work or a lead.

A lead M&A partner always wears purple somewhere in his clothing when he goes to visit clients to brainstorm and talk about possible new deals—he says it brings luck and is associated with creativity.

You get the idea—many successful people have their own superstitions and beliefs. People find big and small contributors to their success in many places—some more mainstream than others. Here are a few contributors for 2018:

A Year for Good Relationships

Astrologers and numerology suggest 2018 creates the right environment to make relationships function well. This includes cooperation, pulling together as a team, and the increased use of intuition. Contrast this with 2017, which was a year of self-sufficiency.

The Timing Is Perfect

The timing for a year of better relationships is perfect. Clients are about to send $3 Billion to outside counsel in 2018 while also reporting inconsistency in their law firms’ delivery—creating an opening for new law firms to strike and showcase their consistency. While every law firm can benefit from diving into client feedback, client teams, and firmwide client service programs to drive change—you’re better off starting while the universe is behind you.  

Superstitions and beliefs are only weird if they don’t work.

Wishing you the best of relationships in 2018.


PS. Don't miss out on our upcoming Market Outlook and Client Service Review webinar on January 18 at Noon Eastern. You can learn more or register here.

Smart Questions To Get Clients To Open Up

Developing business doesn't happen by asking questions with yes or no answers. Truly understanding your clients' needs—and how your firm can help—comes from asking situational questions which drive robust answers. In this week's video, The Mad Clientist walks you through creating scenarios to get your clients talking.

You can view the video by clicking the image 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.

The 16 Most Important Trends and Opportunities for 2018

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Ten years in the making—growth in outside counsel spending returns. Before we party like its 2007, it’s important to realize the 2018 increase is different. 2007 saw new money flooding the market. In 2018, clients are making a strategic choice to move money from in-house staff to outside law firms. These clients want more breadth of skills, the ability to tap skill sets as needed, and the ability to scale up quickly. These same clients want your smarts and experience. Of the many changes to expect in 2018, here are the 16 with the most impact:

  1. Outside counsel spending will grow substantially for the first time in 10 years.
  2. Clients are shifting $3B in spending to outside counsel from their internal budgets due to the steady increase in complex matters.
  3. 35% more companies expect to face IP litigation than in 2017.
  4. 20% of General Counsel are working on plans to proactively eliminate risk and accelerate regulatory approvals.
  5. Clients will continue winnowing down the number of law firms on their rosters.
  6. The largest legal spenders will increasingly rely on procurement to negotiate rates but GCs will retain hiring decisions.
  7. More high-profile big-market laterals will find new homes at new law firms.
  8. Middle-market M&A work (deals ranging in size from $200M to $1B) will continue to deliver a robust flow of business to law firms as large companies buy smaller companies to fill strategic gaps.
  9. Clients expect every law firm proposing on substantive work to offer budget and progress dashboards.
  10. Industry understanding will play a bigger role in convincing clients to hire your firm.
  11. Clients are beginning to avoid firms where they experience too much attrition.
  12. The largest clients who experience uneven client service will stop giving these firms new work.
  13. Healthcare companies will increase spending in 11 practice areas and will lead all industries in increasing outside counsel spending.
  14. Financial services companies are increasing spending on outside counsel more than most.
  15. Increased outside counsel spending at big pharma will rival financial services.
  16. Litigation will see the most growth of any area with more than a 5% increase in outside counsel spending.

Use these trends to guide your business plans. Target your clients and talk to your top clients about their plans; put these trends in front of them to learn their point of view. Asking is the only way to find out.

The firms who are discussing how these trends are impacting their clients, with their clients, are the firms first in line to get the new work.

We will be discussing these opportunities and much more in our upcoming Market Outlook and Client Service Review webinar on January 18 at Noon Eastern. You can learn more or register here.


The Driving Force Behind the Most Successful Industry Programs

Behind the most successful industry programs stands an opportunity for your firm to provide deep insight into your clients' greatest concerns and needs.

You can view the video by clicking the image 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.

Clients Single Out 61 Law Firms Who Can Cut Through Complexity

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Clients have been on the receiving end of a continuous stream of increasingly complex risk and exposures. This stream of complexity is in its 4th year and shows no signs of abating. And, it’s changing what clients want in their law firms.

With equal parts tenacity, sheer will, smarts, and intuition—combined with confidence, savvy, conviction, and the nerve to go for the jugular—these cutting-edge law firms have the killer instinct clients want right now.

Clients see killer instinct as the secret sauce to get to the right answer faster. Most importantly, clients are willing to pay more for killer instinct because their total cost will be lower.

To be sure—clients want the unrelenting research and piercing analysis—but they see and reward firms with an intuitive (and seasoned) sense of direction about exactly how to reach their goals. Here are some the things separating those firms with killer instinct from everyone else:

  • Develop recommendations which carry more risk but may provide a measurably better outcome
  • Work on multiple strategies simultaneously with the goal of a substantially better outcome
  • Pointed and definitive recommendations
  • Fast follow-up—much faster than other firms
  • Willing to make decisions with less data than others

This has been a long time coming—but inevitable. Clients want better results and want value. Killer instinct solves this problem—and more.

Overall, clients identify 61 firms who display this killer instinct. Top legal decision makers single out 2 firms with the most killer instinct:

  • Latham & Watkins
  • Skadden

These top clients point to 6 firms who bring more killer instinct than most:

  • Cooley
  • DLA Piper
  • Greenberg Traurig
  • Jones Day
  • Squire Patton Boggs
  • White & Case

You can study the entire group of killer instinct firms and all those who stand out for traditional and new aspects of client service in the just released BTI Client Service A-Team 2018: Survey of Client Service Performance for Law Firms.

To some killer instinct comes naturally while others learn to develop it. Clients want it from you now—and they are paying premiums to get it.


3 Techniques to Build Stronger Client Relationships—Part 3: Working the Plan

Successfully involving your clients in the matter management process can mean a steady stream of clients who go out of their way to work with you again and again. BTI Principal Jennifer Dezso shares the template you need for keeping your plan on track. 

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

View Part 1 here:

View Part 2 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.

Clients Add 8 New Firms to BTI Client Service 30

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It’s so easy to fall behind in client service. All you have to do is stay the same. But, 30 firms overcome the odds and perform 9 times better at client service than everyone else. These firms are The BTI Client Service 30. While all firms in this elite group stand out for superior client service, the following firms are especially impressive:

  • Jones Day is ranked number 1—absolutely best with their 10th appearance in the top spot
  • Skadden—ranked at number 2—makes their 16th appearance in The BTI Client Service 30
  • Dentons, at number 3, continues to be as aggressive with client service as they are with growth
  • Latham moves up to number 4 by improving the value delivered to clients to best-in-class levels

We also note the 4 firms above are the only law firms corporate counsel rank Best of the Best in all 17 activities driving client service. Jones Day and Dentons have delivered on all 17 best-in-class cylinders for 2 years in a row.

  • Jones Day, Morgan Lewis, and Sidley show unmatched commitment—and success—in continually improving client service. These 3 are the only firms to land a coveted spot on The BTI Client Service 30 in all 17 years BTI has been conducting the research.
  • 8 law firms have been improving performance and rejoin The BTI Client Service 30:
    • Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
    • Davis Polk
    • Pillsbury
    • Littler
    • Mayer Brown
    • King & Spalding
    • McDermott Will & Emery
    • O’Melveny

What Clients See in the Best Performers

Every firm on The BTI Client Service 30 has been here before—for an average of 8 times. They all have ongoing client service programs, as compared to so many firms who start a client service initiative and then change to a new initiative after a year is up. Superior performance demands client service improvement be a permanent part of daily life.

This year, top legal decision makers report superior client service is all about client-facing programs. We heard about dedicated client teams, law firms seeking out client feedback, industry knowledge, and deeply customized educational tools and sessions. We also heard how firms in The BTI Client Service 30 have become much more sensitive to the need for budget certainty—and are delivering.

You can learn the client service strategies and tactics used by The BTI Client Service 30 here. You can see where your firm stands by ordering your copy of the BTI Client Service A-Team 2018: Survey of Law Firm Client Service Performance, which includes a custom comparison of your firm with up to 8 competitors of your choice. This report is the only place you can learn exactly where your firm improved and where a competitor may have improved more—and recommends exactly what to do about it.

BTI has been helping our clients design and implement the most effective client service and business development programs in the world. We welcome the opportunity to discuss how to improve your performance.

Please join me in congratulating The BTI Client Service 30 for 2018.


The 4 Biggest Client Service Turkeys of 2017

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Next week we will give thanks for all our good fortune. This week, The Mad Clientist gives thanks for all we can learn from the most egregious acts of client service. While these may provide a few laughs, they also provide insight into how clients think about their interactions and their experience—and why they appreciate superior client service.

Sure I Have Time for an Important Update—or—Whoops, I Have to Go

My law firm called and asked me if I had time for some important updates on my case. I said of course and settled in for the unscheduled call. They promptly started giving me a very detailed briefing on what appeared to be delicate issues in a matter which was not ours. I told them this wasn’t my case. Then—they simply said they “had to go” and hung up.

— As shared by the General Counsel of a leading pharmaceutical company

My Attorney Really Hit It Off with Opposing Counsel

I decided to give one of our newer law firms a complex but manageable case after they lobbied hard for more work. We had a good kick-off meeting—I felt they understood my key concern about risk and the need to contain the other side with language I wanted them to develop. They performed the work well.

The lead lawyer called me and asked if the partner who performed the work did a good job. I was immediately impressed—they had never asked for feedback before. I told the lead lawyer his firm did a good job. I’ll always remember—his next words were: “Then you wouldn’t mind if the lawyer who performed the work teamed with opposing counsel to work on a matter together at a nonprofit in which both attorneys have an interest—because the 2 attorneys really hit it off.”

— Shared with me during an in–depth interview with a partner at a private equity firm

My Accounting Department Won’t Let Me

“One my new goals was to provide better reporting to top management,” explains the Deputy General Counsel of a global bank, “I met with my partner at the firm who does the bulk of our litigation. I took the most recent invoice the firm sent me and marked it up with comments to show the changes I needed in order to be able to prepare my reports. He listened and acknowledged what I said. The next invoice came through and it looked just like all the other bills. No changes I could see. I sent my partner an email asking what happened. Two days passed and I had no response to my email. I called and left a message. We talked a day later at which point my partner explained he would investigate. Again no response until I called him a couple of days later. My partner told me: “my accounting department won’t let me make the changes you want.” I had to wonder to myself how he would stand up to my adversaries if he wouldn’t stand up to his own accounting department.

— As explained by the Deputy General Counsel for Litigation of a global bank

I Know the CEO

One of the attorneys (at Law Firm X) was so obnoxious that we actually told the firm we would only work with certain attorneys and not this particular attorney on any of our cases. He is very rude and abrasive. But we didn't hold this against the firm because there are so many very good attorneys there. He actually went behind our backs to complain about us to our CEO. After that, no one trusted him, not even our CEO, who asked that the firm never work on any of our cases again.

— Detailed by the EVP/General Counsel of a large power generation company

The moral of these stories: Don’t be a turkey—gobble gobble.

Happy Thanksgiving!


How The BTI Client Service 30 Outperforms Everyone Else

This week The Mad Clientist shares 6 key things The BTI Client Service 30 do to outperform their competition and deliver the very best client service to their clients—and potential clients.

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.

Unspoken Criteria Clients Use to Evaluate Your RFP


Clients are becoming much more skilled in evaluating law firms. They are on the lookout for clues as to what they will get once they hire a firm. Top legal decision makers see so many pitches and presentations they have now developed a clear set of criteria—some of which they share—and some not.

Lack of sharing is neither a trick nor negligence—its client preferences which have become ingrained in their thinking. Clients think about some especially important requirements so often they believe the proposing firms know what these unspoken requirements are.

Other unstated criteria are not yet fully developed but clients know them when they see them—these are the most dangerous—because clients still have an expectation you will meet these unstated criteria.

Our continuing in-depth interviews with top legal decision makers and influencers reveal the following unstated criteria law firms are expected to meet:

  • Talk about client working styles and preference. Law firms are asking clients about their working styles especially around communication, managing to tight timelines, and the types of outreach clients find helpful. One top legal officer of a global consumer products company said, “These questions show they know there may be moments of urgency and plan for it. These firms have been there. I think it’s great they ask what it’s like to work with us—it’s a gutsy question.”
  • Asking clients about their experiences with AFAs. Even though clients report most law firms are still AFA averse—they expect you to not only be conversant in AFAs—but they want you to lead the discussion. AFA-savvy law firms are asking clients about their experiences with AFAs and making suggestions to help their potential client gain more value.
  • Willingness to go off script. Clients want advisors and are bringing up current problems and issues to see how law firms respond. Clients look for firms who share opinions, ideas, and discussion—and avoid the firms who hesitate, or worse, decline. “If they can’t speak about something I think is in their wheelhouse, I get more than a little unnerved,” says a top legal executive at a very large bank.
  • Online dashboards to manage budgets, progress, and store documents. These add so much value to clients, as one GC puts it, “The firms without a dashboard get put at the bottom of the pile.”

The winning law firms prepare and train for each of these unannounced criteria. They practice the pitch, list out the questions they might be asked, and go in knowing they’ll get unexpected questions. And, the winning firms are already thinking about what clients may be adding to the unspoken criteria list moving forward.


3 Techniques to Build Stronger Client Relationships--Part 2: Setting Client Expectations

Setting client expectations is all about eliminating surprises for your client. BTI Principal Jennifer Dezso shares 11 prompts for attorneys to use to help set client expectations, AND describe the value they provide, showcase their experience, and keep everyone moving toward meeting the same objectives.

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

View Part 1 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.

Law Firms to Add Big to Marketing Budgets in 2018—Here’s How to Get Yours

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13% of law firm CMOs are trying to hide their smiles. They snagged big increases in their budgets—just over $1 million per firm.* Their goal is simple—keeping clients, growing clients, and getting new ones. Their success in justifying their new budgets comes from emphasizing the risk of not spending the money. They made the elusive risk of opportunity cost real by:

  • Presenting a detailed year-over-year growth analysis of each major client going back 3 to 5 years, highlighting the clients where revenue is static or has slipped. These CMOs calculated the lost revenue as a percent of total revenue, and a few estimated lost profits. Each CMO analyzed at least 50 clients and some more than 100.
  • Calculating total new business developed per partner and per attorney over time. These CMOs were careful not to track names but wanted to show their firm was either becoming more or less productive in developing business.
  • Using strategically designed client feedback to uncover how often the firm is considered (or more importantly not considered) for new work—using the outcome to estimate new business sitting on the table—and the cost of not winning the work.
  • Surveying firm partners asking them to assess their own business development prowess and probing for the obstacles preventing improvement. In almost every case you end up with low self-evaluation of skills and many obstacles to success. This is your business development training outline and justification—especially when you present your results in conjunction with the client retention and business development productivity in the bullets above.

The Real Secret to Adding Big

The budget gains are based on way more than good analysis alone. The CMOs have been working on their efforts for 2 years or more. They sought out advice and counsel from friendly partners and were evangelists for their cause—able to preach at every available moment without crossing the line to being a pain. They lobbied hard within the firm. And, these CMOs presented the needs in digestible chunks which all fit neatly into a strategic framework when put together.

The budget increasing CMOs jumped all over their firm’s strategic planning process. They made their voice heard so it could not be ignored—trying to own as much of the process as possible—even if it meant working outside the process and feeding their thoughts and data to key partners.

What’s Happening to the Rest of the Marketing and Business Development Budgets

Overall, the legal marketing budget outlook is stable and continues a very slow path forward. The typical law firm will spend 2.53% of firm revenue on marketing and business development up from 2.5% of revenue in 2017. This is an almost stunning contrast to the law firms making the big investments.

The pace of change is slow. But as long as a measurable number of firms change their approach to investing in business development—everyone else has to worry. And the firms boosting their budgets have to execute while the race for clients throttles up a little bit more.


*This new research is based on more than 159 in-depth interviews with law firm marketing leaders conducted from May 1, 2017 to October 20, 2017.

Inward vs. Outward Innovation: What Your Clients Want from Your Firm

Inwardly motivated innovation and outwardly motivated innovation can lead to very different outcomes for your firm. The Mad Clientist shows how client-recognized innovation improves your firm's bottom line.

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.

Separating Fact from Fiction: Why Attorneys Are Never Responsive Enough


Your clients think in terms of minutes and hours when looking for responses to their questions. Just over 80% of clients expect an immediate response to their texts and emails. Immediate, in their minds, means 1 to 2 hours*.

The majority of calls to attorneys are prompted by a question or issue posed to your client. Think about your client’s boss, a C-level executive colleague, or business unit leader who wants an answer to an important question your client doesn’t have. And, these colleagues want answers when they ask—not hours later.

Your client wants to be the problem solver—not the source of delay. So they want answers from you now. Your client’s response is in full public view at their organization—their colleagues are acutely aware of how long it takes to answer their question.

Attorney’s Immediate Is 2x as Long as Client’s Immediate

Lawyers routinely think of their client response time in 4- to 8-hour blocks. Between all their commitments, court dates, filing deadlines and a consistent stream of client inquiries, most attorneys see 4 to 8 hours as appropriate. This is twice what clients expect, as we learned from our work in developing client service standards and related initiatives with law firms.

You can close this gap immediately and move your response with little disruption to your routine—big time rainmakers and BTI Client Service All-Stars rely on these techniques to make clients unflinching in their belief you are always immediate and helpful in your response. We recommend:

  1. Asking clients about their preferred response time. You will learn exactly what your client thinks is reasonable by asking directly, which may change their expectation and boost your client service.
  2. Agreeing to have your client identify truly urgent issues in their outreach.
  3. Leaving a detailed out-of-office message or voicemail which states how long you will be out—and more importantly—when you will be back or checking messages. (Clients tell us they are infuriated by open ended messages which merely state you are out of the office.)
  4. Ensuring your assistant and anyone answering your phone can communicate when you will be available and when you will be checking messages.
  5. For your very best clients—letting them know in advance if you will be hard to reach and sharing your plans for availability.

The good news is you can pause the response time clock by letting clients know when they will hear from you. Once clients know, they can manage their own situation and look like everything is under control. You may still have to rush to get an answer but at least your client will be smiling.


*Based on BTI research conducted on a rolling basis between February 2017 and September 2017. BTI conducted more than 325 independent, individual interviews with CLOs and General Counsel at Fortune 1000 companies and large organizations.

The Value Equation Cheat Sheet: Delivering Superior Value

Delivering superior value to your clients isn't only about doing more than what's expected of you. With this Value Equation Cheat Sheet, Jennifer Dezso shows you how to talk about value with clients so their decision to hire you isn’t solely based on price.

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.

Clients Find New Money to Send to Outside Law Firms

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Follow the money. The money will always tell you the story.

This money is going back to outside counsel. Flying right into the face of conventional thinking after 7 years of watching clients bring work in house—it’s going right back out again to outside law firms. But, how it’s going and to whom, is as different as ever.

Where Will the Money Come From?

Top legal decision makers are able to keep balanced budgets despite using high-priced outside counsel by using new budget and buying strategies. Clients are able to buy more services for the same dollars with the help of their new Chief Legal Operating Officers. This new group is already helping to buy smarter and get more outside counsel for the buck.

In addition to CLOO savings, large clients continue to embrace AFAs—with fixed fees being the arrangement of choice. General Counsel are also using the savings from the large number of settlements they reached (litigation settlements hit a record in 2017) to fund their newfound spending with outside counsel. And clients have only started to push hard on these fronts.

Clients are picking and choosing their law firms based on their enthusiasm and prowess in these buying strategies. Any sign of law firm resistance, even if unintended, will make your firm look much less attractive than those embracing the new way of GC living.

Our research with top legal decision makers shows this shift has been in the making for the past 18 months.

Your success in winning some of the largest surge of new work to hit the market in 10 years is equally dependent on 3 factors: 1) the new buying strategies; 2) positioning your firm to grab this work before clients think about issuing RFPS; and 3) other law firms getting there first. This means targeting business plans to get to these clients fast to talk to about plans for 2018, challenges, and new ways of doing business. Here are some suggestions for moving forward:

Growth in 15 Practices

Growth returns to almost every major practice. Clients tell us the increased need for outside counsel is broad based with litigation, labor and employment issues, tax, trade, and regulatory issues all commanding significant and strategic attention—all due to more complexity and uncertainty. This translates into the following:

  • IP Litigation, Regulatory, and M&A which will enjoy between 7% and 10% growth
  • Class Actions and Private Equity are right behind with growth between 5% and 7%
  • 8 more practices are targeted for increases as well
  • Only 3 will decline

Big Legal Clients Leading the Charge

Clients in the largest spending industries are leading the move to use outside counsel more with 3 of the 4 largest industries planning growth for up to 11 practices. These include the following trendsetting industry sectors:

  • The Health Care industry plans to increase spending in 11 different practice areas—showing the broadest need
  • Pharmaceutical clients plan for increased need in 10 separate practice areas
  • Banking and Financial Services organizations plan to increase spending in 9 practices

The Flat Market for Outside Counsel Spending Is Officially Dead (At Least for Now)

Corporate counsel can’t scale their departments fast enough to meet the needs of the increasingly complex work coming in the door. They also want to tap a broader range of skills than they can keep on staff. This is a fundamental change in their approach from the last 6 years. Overall, clients plan to move $3 billion of in-house budget to outside law firms in 2018.

You can pinpoint where each and every practice will grow and command higher rates in the newly released BTI Practice Outlook 2018: Changes, Trends and Opportunities for Law Firms.