What the 26 Firms in the BTI Power Elite Do Differently

Aggressive client-facing initiatives—the one reason why 15 firms are new to the BTI Power Elite 2019. These firms are acting on a targeted set of high-impact strategies—with teeth behind them. The BTI Power Elite are driving their client service and client development initiatives further than all other law firms. This includes:

Adopting and posting relationship strength and client service performance indicators

The firms with the best client relationships rely on powerful indicators to track strength and momentum. These indicators include:

  • Client service performance—quantitative and qualitative measures—including BTI’s 17 Activities Driving Superior Client Service

  • Net effective billing rate by client (total fees collected by total hours billed)

  • Client retention annually for each major client

  • Annual and 3-year growth for each major client

  • New business generated from each existing major client

  • Number of practices delivered

  • Meetings to discuss issues outside of current work

  • Self-assessment by the lead relationship partner

  • Number of new client needs

  • Number of unsolicited proposals submitted

  • Net effective rates from unsolicited proposals

These indicators look at the client relationship from all angles, including client service and business development. BD is important because the best relationships grow. The financial indicators are essential as you make more money, and enjoy the higher productivity, resulting from strong relationships. An increasing net effective rate can also be a leading indicator of a strengthening relationship.

Training in client relationship development

The BTI Power Elite don’t leave much to chance. These firms train their attorneys in client service—some splitting into beginners and advanced. In most firms, attorneys learn from each other—but training ensures all the attorneys are working with the best knowledge base and strategies.

These same firms also train their attorneys in business development. BD skills not only generate revenue, they also build client relationships and keep competitors out.

Adopting client service standards across the firm

Client service standards define how attorneys interact with clients. These are the rules of client engagement. The standards govern communication, project management, client visits, and the steps to take to better understand your client’s business. These standards define excellent performance for all to understand—including clients. Client feedback is the most effective tool in serving as the basis for developing client service standards—this ensures the standards speak to client expectations and demands.

Enforcing client service standards in a meaningful manner

Client service standards are just nice promises without a meaningful commitment to meet these standards. The typical BTI Power Elite firm has tools to enforce the client service standards including:

  • Self-reporting of the activities and deadlines defined by the standards

  • Internal publishing of activities

  • Client feedback to rank firm performance in the client service standards

  • Performance audits by attorneys and/or staff

Advanced client teams

The BTI Power Elite rely on highly developed client teams going beyond the typical client team. These advanced teams develop long and short-term client plans. The team has a clear leader accountable to the client, with designated lieutenants.

The client is part of the team—providing input into certain aspects of the plan such as staffing, strategic objectives, budgets, billing protocols, communication protocols, and defining business risk. Larger clients also take part in law firm led strategic planning for the legal department. The best firms deliver all this in a coordinated, highly orchestrated manner. Everyone works together.

Large-scale systematic client feedback

The typical firm leader conducts an average of 12 client interviews per year. The BTI Power Elite firms conduct between 30 and 150 or more. One conducted 40 interviews at a single client. Client feedback doesn’t just inform—it drives action, improves performance, and engages clients. The benefits of larger-scale client feedback initiatives are vast. They include:

  • Generating ⅓rd more business per client with their top 50 clients than other firms

  • 35% higher client retention

  • More than double the fees from a single client

  • 7% rate premiums across all staff levels

Adopting and training attorneys in client communication protocols proven to improve relationships

You can’t have a strong relationship without strong client communication. These firms define the most critical aspects of client communication including:

  • Matter start up

  • Scope changes

  • Budget changes

  • Staff changes and additions

  • Invoicing

Your communication around these issues can make or break any client relationship. These firms provide sample dialogue, case studies, mock client discussions, and tools such as meeting outlines to ensure meaningful and timely client communication. This robust communication drives client confidence and, in turn, drives higher rates and stronger relationships.

Using activity-based metrics in addition to quantitative metrics to change and improve partner tactics to build deeper client relationships

Activity-based metrics define behaviors known to produce good outcomes. Examples of activity-based metrics include:

  • In-person client meetings to discuss issues

  • Taking a client facility tour

  • Offering unsolicited proposals

  • Conducting CLEs

An activity-based metric ensures attorneys are engaged in the most effective and impactful behaviors. We recommend providing a menu of proven activities and ask each attorney to pick 2 they are comfortable with. Provide the training and the tools, ensure the attorneys implement in a timely manner at 2 of their top clients—and watch client relationships start to strengthen and grow.

Adopting any of the strategies above improves client-facing performance. You are best served by investing big in a smaller, but targeted list. Each of the strategies above brings big impact. Not every firm in the BTI Power Elite is doing everything here, but each is deeply invested in a few strategies—and a few is all it takes. Learn more about these firms in the newly released BTI Power Rankings: Client Relationship Scorecard.

We have advised, designed, and helped implement some of the best client relationship-building programs in the world. I am happy to talk these through with you.


The 26 Law Firms with the Best Client Relationships

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Client relationships are the lifeblood of any law firm. Not just clients—but client relationships. Anyone can pick up cases—but building an ongoing relationship with robust energy and a continuing stream of work is hard. Very hard—but more than worth the effort.

The law firms with the best client relationships enjoy better performance than all others. This includes large firms, mid-sized firms, and small firms. Show me a firm with strong relationships (not matters but recurring relationships) and I will show you a high-performing firm.

BTI probed more than 650 top legal decision makers about all aspects of their law firm relationships. This enables us to dissect the strength and potential of each client relationship. No law firms submit clients and we don’t suggest names. The law firms and nature of the relationships all come solely from clients.

Latham & Watkins enjoys the strongest relationships of all law firms. This helps explain their meteoric growth and profits. The firm has been working at it for more than 10 years and has always been ever so close to the top—now the crown of best rests with Latham.

Jones Day, Skadden, Davis Polk, and Gibson Dunn round out the top 5. Mid-size firm Kramer Levin comes in at number 10—proving you don’t have to be a mega firm to have the best relationships. (Willkie with 700 attorneys comes in at number 28 to further bolster this argument.)

Some law firms have really upped their game in the 2 years since our last report, as 15 of the 26 firms in the BTI Power Elite are new this year. Please join me in congratulating the following 26 firms for developing the best client relationships of all law firms:

1.     Latham & Watkins

2.    Jones Day

3.    Skadden

4.    Davis Polk

5.    Gibson Dunn

6.    Morgan Lewis

7.     Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

8.    Arnold & Porter

9.    Jenner & Block

10.   Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel

11.   Cooley

12.   Pillsbury

13.   Paul, Weiss

14.   Kirkland & Ellis

15.   McGuireWoods

16.   DLA Piper

17.   Covington

18.   Dechert

19.   Sullivan & Cromwell

20.  Hunton Andrews Kurth

21.   White & Case

22.   Dentons

23.   Reed Smith

24.   Weil

25.   Morrison & Foerster

26.   Irell & Manella

The BTI Power Elite have more of the strongest relationships than any other firms. But they too have to look behind them.

Clients identify 34 law firms showing substantial underlying strength—BTI Power Players—who are right behind the BTI Power Elite. The Celebrities are the 9 firms garnering exceptional mindshare and clients are inclined to use them for substantive work. We found 27 trusted law firms (The Special Forces) are poised for special situations. These firms have more core relationships than 70% of all other law firms—but earn fewer unprompted recommendations—clearly an opportunity to boost client service and earn more business.

We found 188 law firms with the opportunity to truly leverage their client relationships into something bigger and stronger. The Underdogs are fighting all the firms above—but everyone likes a comeback story—so clients are not only likely to notice but are likely to embrace the new performance you can bring.

As we discussed last week, the law firms who know their position outperform those who don’t. Your standing with clients defines your strategy, the level of investment, and the effort required for success. You can map yours now in the just released report BTI Power Rankings 2016: The Client Relationship Scorecard—including a ranking in each of the 18 industries.

You can assess the strength of your firm’s client relationships through BTI’s in-depth client feedback—and use it to improve client strength and revenue.


Based on more than 650 in-depth interviews with top legal decision makers conducted between March 2017 and April 2018.

Clients See 8 Types of Law Firms in Today’s Market

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Clients use anywhere between 12 and 41 law firms, on average. Small and mid-sized clients use 12 or so. Some large clients easily go over 100 or more. Of these law firms clients use, only 10 are in the sweet spot—considered core by legal decision makers. This number drops to 5 at smaller clients. And even among these core providers, distinct differences can tell you whether or not your client relationship will stand the test of time.

First, let’s look at how GCs manage their outside law firms:

The Primary Providers

Clients turn to these law firms first when a new legal need arises. Clients consider these firms their most valued and trusted providers—and as a reward, these firms split the lion’s share of a client’s outside counsel spending. Clients rely on between 2 to 4 primary providers in total. Each wants to be the top primary provider. And with good reason: this is where the best, most complex, and highest-rate work lives.

Secondary Law Firms

While not in the primary seat, these firms still boast strong client relationships and receive a significant portion of external legal spending. In fact, the primary and secondary law firms combined account for 80% of a client’s total spending with law firms.

The secondary firm can be a great opportunity or potential risk. You can be auditioning for a primary spot – or be a fallen primary.

The Rest of the Law Firms

The last (and largest) group of law firms on a client’s roster are the firms where the relationships are the weakest. These are the firms handling specialized work (i.e., in highly specialized areas of expertise or geography-driven cases) with few points of leverage.

Success demands you understand the strength of your client relationships—especially the relationships you have with each of your most important clients. Your position dictates the best strategy for building stronger and better client relationships.

The combination of your positioning as a primary or secondary firm, and your client’s investment in your firm, drives your strength. BTI asked more than 650 top legal decision makers about where each of their law firms stands and who they recommend to peers—this tells you exactly where you stand. The analysis reveals 8 categories of law firms. These include:

BTI Power Elite

The 28 firms enjoy the absolute strongest client relationships; positioned for long-term organic growth and substantial inbound lead flow. These firms have the most primary relationships and are the first unprompted firms to be recommended to a peer. The BTI Power Elite have the best of both worlds—and these 26 firms have more of these relationships than any other firm—offering organic growth and inbound leads.

BTI Power Players

These 34 firms have a large number of strong client relationships—but not quite as many as the BTI Power Elite. The BTI Power Players are within shouting distance of the BTI Power Elite—with the potential to unseat Power Elite firms to gain more market share and clients.


Current relationships are strong and have the underlying strength to be much stronger. These 45 law firms can harness the skills around their strong client relationships and jumpstart growth to develop a larger number of the strongest client relationships.


The Celebrities are the firms clients love to recommend; their recommendation rates far outpace the number of core relationships these firm enjoy. These 9 firms garner exceptional mindshare and clients are inclined to use them for substantive work. Their challenge is to develop these clients into more business to earn the strongest relationships. You can see by the small number of firms in this group— this is a unique spot from which to grow.

Special Forces

These are the 27 trusted providers clients call in for special situations; these firms have more core relationships than 70% of all other law firms—but earn fewer unprompted recommendations. Clients see their role as specialized and targeted—the Special Forces law firms have the opportunity to build on this trust to broaden the relationship. But, like the Celebrities—success demands a strong dose of business development and gaining the coveted unprompted recommendation. These firms have more strength than most.

The SWAT Team

The team to call to get the job done; these firms have functionally driven core relationships, but an absence of unprompted recommendations. Like the Special Forces, clients know they can rely on these 9 firms—their challenge is to build these into ongoing relationships through a combination of client service and business development—often delivered hand-in-hand.


These 186 firms are the firms clients love to root for; they have the potential to rise through the ranks if they can increase their share of core relationships. Success calls for serious and systematic business development initiatives – this would include BD training for client-savvy partners, client service training for all other partners, and a healthy dose of client feedback to detail exactly where to improve performance, spot opportunity, and better bond with clients.

Everyone Else

These firms are missing top legal decision makers’ radars when it comes to meaningful client relationships. They may be doing work but are in more of a functional or task-driven role. This can be a bit deceptive because a task at a large company can generate substantial fees—but they have a muted future. These firms can identify themselves as they will have high client turnover, high business development costs, and lower realization. The firms can start on the path to a stronger, more enduring relationship by targeting their best clients, getting feedback, embracing client service, and putting business development out front as a top priority—as the chances of new complex work finding its way to a firm in this group are low—even through RFPs.

Outperform Everyone Else

Firms who know the strength of their client relationships outperform everyone else. These knowing firms are the only ones who pinpoint the client development strategy best suited to their clients—and can drive it forward using the right skills at the right time. Everyone else has to guess.

You can assess the strength of your firm’s client relationships through BTI’s in-depth client feedback—and use it to improve client strength and revenue.

You can also see where you stand in the BTI Power Rankings 2019: The Client Relationship Scorecard—to be released August 1, 2019.


Based on more than 650 in-depth interviews with top legal decision makers conducted between March 2017 and April 2018.

More Law Firms Earning Client Recommendations

Top legal decision makers recommend 293 law firms, 21.6% more law firms for 2019. This upswing is on the heels of a 3-year downtrend. We see 2 driving reasons:

1) A number of law firms are having success with their firmwide client service excellence initiatives—bringing new unprompted recommendations from clients.

2) Clients are using more law firms than last year—and a number of these firms are picking up new recommendations in the early stages of the relationship.

We are talking about GC-to-GC recommendations—the kind taking place in private and frequent conversations – when top legal decision makers share their experiences with different law firms. These unprompted peer-to-peer recommendations are the most powerful—and lead to serious new business.

Please join me in congratulating the firms with the best branding through unprompted client-to-client recommendations:


5 Reasons Clients Love to Call Their Law Firms

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Clients tell us there are 5 times when they truly enjoy calling their outside counsel. These busy legal decision makers have little time for optional phone calls—which makes these 5 especially telling. These calls are:

  1. Review a delivered work product
    Clients inevitably have questions, comments, and changes. Your clients view these calls as essential and productive. Many enjoy intellectual stimulation. These calls are a core part of the work process.

  2. New work
    Congratulations. Your client wants to give you more work. You have superior client service, you deliver on time, and within budget. You understand your client. You won the work without going to RFP. Clients like to make these calls and partners like to receive these. An excellent phone call by any standard.  

  3. Come give us a CLE
    Clients may need to meet a state requirement, improve staff morale and productivity, or see a knowledge gap in their department. They want you to train their staff. A CLE provides more than knowledge. CLEs provide new thinking, promote internal dialogue, make outside counsel seem more available, and show the top legal decision makers actively investing in their people. All good.

  4. Give you feedback
    Contrary to popular belief, clients like to give you feedback. They want you to be better at what you do, no matter how good you already are. Everyone can improve. The clients who take the time to share feedback on your performance are among the best clients. These clients are invested in your success. Another good phone call—especially weighted towards the law firms.  

  5. Checking in
    Clients call their favorite partners to see how they are doing. Clients want to stay in touch and see their advisors succeed. While a good call by any measure—it is also a sign—you are not staying in touch with your client. The best clients and law firm partners know informal communications drive the success of all the other communications.

If you are getting these calls, accept our congratulations—and keep developing what is clearly a strong relationship. If you’re not—here are a few suggestions:

  • Call your client. Share progress and tidbits from your current work. Talk about the good work your associates are doing. List out any new thinking or breakthroughs—even an interesting observation. The important message—bring your client into the process early and often.

  • Update your client on firm events. Any client who treats you as a primary law firm wants to know the firm’s plans. They enjoy knowing their advisors are planning ahead and feel included when you make an effort to tell them. (They feel excluded when they learn about your firm’s strategy from a 3rd party—including the press.)

  • Call and offer your client a CLE. So few clients are proactively offered CLEs you can almost count them on one hand. Law firms who offer up a CLE before clients ask, stand out as the proactive, understanding firm. The law firms who wait for clients to ask are merely responsive.

  • Ask for feedback. Clients want to tell you how you are doing and want you to improve. Ask before clients offer and position yourself as one of the firms who includes self-improvement—and client thinking—in their culture.

  • Stay in touch. When one of the calls clients love to make is to see how you’re doing—they are saying they want to do business with the person and the firm. Make it easy—schedule a time every 2 to 3 weeks to have a short call with your top clients. Share the more interesting parts of your life and ask your client about theirs.

    One top legal officer at mega-sized Tech company once remarked how the most surprising thing the partner from his most used law firms ever did was to call and ask how things were going and what was new in his world. It changed the whole relationship for the better.

You can’t exactly hire yourself for new work—but the law firm partners who take the time to make these calls will receive one of the call clients love to make—give you new business.


Clients Shatter 2 Records Helping Latham Shatter $3 Billion in Revenue

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Clients are on pace in 2018 to record levels for spending the largest amount ever on outside counsel. At the same time, they rely on fewer law firms than ever.

Latham, which has just posted the highest revenue of any law firm, has been following and using these shifting client and market trends to its advantage for more than 10 years—it’s one reason Latham’s growth is in overdrive. 

Latham’s unprecedented growth is turbocharged by the firm understanding why clients are consolidating their work and then positioning the firm to pick up major chunks of new business with existing clients by delivering what clients are seeking.

Latham’s winning approach? Adopt the ‘provide-the-best-value’ approach, not the low-cost provider approach—and clearly this tactic is working.

This strategy becomes clear once you understand why clients are consolidating work.  

Improving Risk Management

The current round of consolidation is all about risk management and adding value. Clients have been cutting their law firms in an especially aggressive manner—dropping more than 19% of their firms over the last 3 years. On average, clients now have a record low 34 law firms on their panel, down from 42 firms in 2015. Clients’ goals with consolidation are to:

  • Streamline outside counsel management
  • Stop working with firms not adding measurable value
  • Have law firms build institutional knowledge about the company
  • Develop uniform understanding of their preferences among their law firms
  • Create uniform understanding around the risks they face

It’s Not About the Fees

Cutting your fees won’t keep you on the roster anymore. What clients are looking for most in their panel firms is: 

  • Knowledge about their specific risks and exposures
  • Vehicles to share and discuss this knowledge
  • Candor—how can they do things better and smarter
  • Tools—budget/progress dashboards and other tools where key information is now on-demand
  • Education on issues they need to know—going well beyond e-alerts

These criteria have big implications for how to develop big client relationships: 

  • Clients teams who don’t offer client-specific education programs will miss a major opportunity to upgrade the relationship. 
  • Play an active role in helping clients streamline their legal operations. 
  • Use client feedback to learn what tools clients have, what they want, and then give them more. 
  • Always be in an informal discussion with your client. Informal discussion provides the context for the formal requests— giving you knowledge no one else has, and you will learn about new needs before anyone else, too.
  • Offer to perform the work you know is coming down the pike—don’t wait for it.
  • Stick it out. Client growth is anything but linear. It will take more time to develop than you expect—and will then grow faster than you expect.

Clients have never been more serious about using their law firms in a more clever way. The market is still ripe for firms to execute this low-risk/high-return strategy, but success demands commitment, training, tools, and embracing the art and science of pulling all the pieces together to make it sing. Latham serves as highly visible proof of this concept. What more evidence do you need? 

BTI has helped some of the most successful firms in the world develop client growth plans. We would be happy to answer questions or discuss your approach.      


(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)

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 mrynowecer@bticonsulting.com.

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.

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: https://youtu.be/vCXmeUWi2z0

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.

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: https://youtu.be/D_Ccko9C2wA

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.

4 Keys to Winning More Work

Acting as a business advisor sparks conversations and develops relationships before legal issues arise and leads to capturing high-rate legal work from your clients.

Your ability to provide your service in the context of the client’s business will most differentiate you in the eyes of clients. Industry dynamics, current events, emerging regulations, competitor news, and the political landscape are the basis for providing targeted advice to help clients meet their ultimate objectives. Learn more about providing this crucial service to your client’s in my best-selling book, Clientelligence: How Superior Client Relationships Fuel Growth and Profit, available now at www.bticonsulting.com/clientelligence.



Change Your Client Relationships with New Matter Triage

Clients are seeing more new, complex matters than they have in the last 5 years. Learn how firms are using new matter triage to earn this new, complex work and change their client relationships.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/YEb6hfGVxNU

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.

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: https://youtu.be/rrxDmvyKzMU

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.

Resolutions Rot on the Vine—Do This Instead



Just after Christmas, knights of medieval times would gather together and, one by one, take an oath. Each knight would place their hand on a live (or sometimes roasted) peacock and recommit themselves to the ideals of chivalry for the next 12 months. The peacock was placed in an ornate, specially crafted gold container and was chosen because its plumage was considered the most beautiful and powerful gift the Royals could offer, alongside crowns and jewels. Some knights would be given ceremonial helmets adorned with plumage.

The ceremony became known as The Vow of the Peacock.

Knights would recommit year after year—they viewed this as stronger than a resolution. The knights were making a public pledge to others and could not break it, as this would be unworthy. The public recommitment helped keep chivalry alive in the kingdom.

The knights viewed a resolution as more of an inward promise—something others may not know about or understand. Better to outwardly commit, continue to drive chivalry, and be proud as a peacock.

Instead of making inward resolutions, we recommend each firm’s executive committee perform their own version of The Vow of the Peacock ceremony—and then ask the partners in each practice group to do the same. As a firm, you will be recommitting to the ideals of chivalry toward clients.

The noblest firms in the legal kingdom will perform The Vow of the Peacock in front of their clients. This means sharing your client service commitments in an outward manner. It can take the form of firmwide client service standards; making individual commitments to each of your major clients around how and when you will communicate progress; learning about their business; providing formal updates; or informing clients of changes.

Use The Vow of the Peacock to recommit yourselves and your partners to clients, as well as to superior client service. And you, too, will be proud as a peacock.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2017.


Where to Invest More to Build Superior Client Relationships

This week’s Mad Clientist Minute features The Mad Clientist himself discussing exactly how law firms with the most successful client relationships allocate their marketing and business development budgets.

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

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 with the Best Client Relationships

Behind every great rainmaker, mover and shaker and leader are great relationships. In fact, replace great with superior. People who make things happen make superior relationships first.

People who sell don’t develop nearly as much business as people who develop relationships. New business flows to those individuals and companies who can move beyond a transaction to a relationship. People, especially executives, don’t want to work with the person with the best sales skills. People want to work with those who are emotionally invested in helping them and will pay significant premiums for this rare commodity.

Client Investment Drives Success

Let’s start with our end goal: grow better—and more profitable—client relationships. (If your goals don’t involve growth and/or profitability, you can stop reading here. Good luck on your business venture.)

In order to achieve this goal, we need more clients giving us more money. Put another way, we need clients who are invested in us. Invested clients spend the biggest portion of their hard-earned money with you. Invested clients will also willingly recommend you to their peers without you ever asking for a reference.

Satisfied clients are not necessarily invested clients. How can you tell the difference between a satisfied client and an invested client? Easy—their behavior.

Truly invested clients—the clients with whom you have the absolute best relationships—exhibit 2 key behaviors (which also happen to be measurable and objective assessments):

  1. Out of all the providers a client uses for a particular service, they spend the most money with you—usually 2 to 5 times more than anyone else
  2. You are the first provider a client recommends—in an unprompted manner—to their peers

When both of these statements ring true with a single client, you have reached the ideal state of the client relationship…you are in Clientopia®. This is the strongest relationship you can possibly have. Clientopia relationships trump satisfied clients—invested clients have a stake in your success—satisfied clients don’t.

Think of a Clientopia relationship as having 3 key components:

Component 1: Earning the Client’s Financial Investment

A typical company relies on 42 law firms for their legal needs. However, on average only 2 firms are considered primary.

Does being primary matter? Only if you are looking to make money and grow.

A single primary provider typically captures 25% to 40% of a client’s budget; letting the other 41 providers fight it out for the rest.

When you are a primary provider—and in particular the first primary provider a client turns to—clients are making a financial investment in your organization. You have the best access to clients and their premium work.

Component 2: Earning the Client’s Emotional Investment

Recommendations are one of the leading indicators of future growth potential for a service provider. Fully 57% of C-level executives will hire a new service provider based on a single, unprompted recommendation from a peer. A staggering insight into the power of recommendations—correction: unprompted recommendations.

Unprompted, unaided recommendations mean you earned this recommendation on your own merit. No one asked about you by name or included you as part of a list.

It’s the difference between:

“How did you like eating at Restaurant ABC?” (Prompted)


“What’s your favorite restaurant?” (Unprompted)

When you are the first service provider a client recommends—unprompted—you have earned the client’s emotional investment. They are willing to stick their neck out for you; giving you access to new work opportunities.

Component 3: Make Lots of Money for a Long Time (Reaching Clientopia)

The key to Clientopia’s kingdom demands you bring both of these components together to achieve the ideal relationship. In Clientopia, you have earned your client’s financial and emotional investment.

Being in a state of Clientopia provides a number of significant advantages (more on those in a later post), but let’s get the financials out of the way. Providers with best-in-class levels of Clientopia enjoy:

  • 19.5% rate premiums
  • 35.6% faster revenue growth
  • 33.1% higher client retention

The good and the bad news: only 40.1% of clients see themselves in a state of Clientopia. And these 40.1% of clients are in Clientopia with only 20.6% of the law firms serving large clients. This is disproportionately as important to every law firm as profits. The law firms in Clientopia will gain share organically as other law firms let their relationships slip away.

BTI will release the client rankings of law firm relationships next week in our brand new BTI Power Rankings 2016: The Law Firms with the Best Client Relationships. The report ranks law firms on the strength of their client relationships—both overall and for 16 industries. Subscribe now to ensure you don’t miss a beat and stay tuned for the rankings—including the 24 law firms with the absolute best client relationships.