Who'll Collect the Win? 9 Firms Intent on Edging Out Kirkland and Latham

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Who’s next? Kirkland and Latham are in a class by themselves. So, which firms can get even bigger and create a new class? We asked more than 160 law firm marketing leaders and here’s who they think are the next firms to deliver blow-out growth:

DLA Piper and Dentons

These 2 merger-hungry firms lead the list of firms most likely to pass Kirkland and Latham in growth. Law firm leaders expect DLA Piper and Dentons to find new merger partners—and create 2 new, even larger firms to drive unmatched growth. Whether the mergers occur inside or outside the US remains to be seen—but—the competition expects each firm’s next moves to be big and impactful.

Baker McKenzie

The firm is undergoing major changes to bring together its many pieces into a unified growth machine. The firm closed comp, brought in a strong leader to drive client development, and is becoming much more aggressive in its innovation and thought leadership. This is the strongest effort yet to create the uniformity successful law firms need to scale past the current market leaders.

Hogan Lovells

With a collection of global clients which would make any law firm salivate, Hogan Lovells has the existing base to kick off blazing global growth. The firm’s proven experience in serving and managing global clients paired with its superior client service prowess has law firm leaders watching Hogan Lovell’s next steps—very carefully.  

Jones Day

Boasting one of the best brands and the highest levels of client service, Jones Day is positioned to leapfrog the market leaders. The firm brings one of the strongest cultures of strategic discipline and uniformity across the globe. The partners understand and believe in the firm’s strategy—and the changes in strategy as market demands change. Jones Day understands the legal world is all about its clients—and knows their clients better than most others. All this adds up to outsized growth waiting to happen.

Morgan Lewis

Morgan Lewis is one of the rare firms able to integrate its sizable lateral pool, deliver superior client service, change its approach to the market as needs develop, and is deeply committed to client-facing innovation (dating back over 20 years when Cisco used Morgan Lewis as the poster child for how to use AFAs). Look for the firm to take on more lateral groups and improve its already high-performing global client teams to drive leadership growth levels.

Paul, Weiss

Paul, Weis announced its new growth strategy by picking up Scott Barshay out of Cravath. Not only did it announce the death knell for lock step, it announced the firm was going big. The firm is one of the few with successful lateral integration. The firm’s lateral rainmakers are supported while growing the existing client base firmwide. A longtime client feedback advocate, Paul, Weiss is adding business (and profits) by leaps and bounds.

Quinn Emanuel

Quinn is nothing if not aggressive. Having passed $1 billion last year, you have to believe $3 or $5 billion in revenue is the next goal. The firm takes marketing and business development more seriously than most give it credit for. Quinn targets prime clients and goes after them with a vengeance. It understands how to win work without RFPs. The firm brings in rainmakers able to keep their existing clients while also finding new ones. Quinn is enjoying brand growth—driving more inbound leads. A growing group of clients is coming to terms with Quinn’s representing plaintiffs and defendants—and a few clients see it is a plus.

Skadden

Boasting one of the strongest brands, competitors expect the firm to gain the momentum to go right past Kirkland and Latham. The firm enjoys an institutional client base with large budgets and recurring needs. The brand generates significant inbound referrals. Skadden sits in the heart of the markets showing the most growth—providing a strong tailwind.

Skadden assigns a group of partners to look at business development and client related issues at regular intervals. These groups may not have long lives but a short life span can bring a more thoughtful approach. Our research detected 2 changes to it's business development and client development tactics—both relying on educating clients on leading-edge trends in transactions and litigation. While Skadden has a history of using their knowledge to keep clients current—the tactic is becoming more widespread – developing brand and new business across a wide swath of top legal decision makers.

The Big 4

A smaller number of law firm marketing leaders expect the Big 4 to eclipse law firms in size and growth. The Big 4 can only achieve this by acquisition; this would clearly redefine the business of law as we know it and require some regulatory wrangling.

Nobody No How

11% of law firm marketing leaders believe Kirkland and Latham have a lock on being the fastest to grow. They see these 2 firms as having the strategies to continue being unmatched market leaders.

We eagerly watch the competing landscape unfold. Paul, Weiss and Kirkland will not be the only firms to pluck the best laterals. Other law firms are making large investments in their growth which they believe in their heart of hearts will drive market-setting growth. These firms rarely get noticed during early implementation and “pop up out of nowhere” when they start to grow.

We wish all these firms luck as we track their growth and watch how they navigate one of the most attractive legal markets to appear in almost 20 years.

MBR

 

7 Ways BTI Business Development Badasses Are Different

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Attitude and behavior win you BTI Business Develop Badass status. It’s not only what you do, it’s how you do it—specifically. BTI research reveals 7 key differences between the BTI Development Badass (BDB) firms and everyone else.

1. Advance Notice of the Pitch

Knowing the pitch is coming before everyone else is a real advantage. BDBs carefully plan out the best team with both knowledge and chemistry. They know how to do the business development equivalent of synchronized swimming. These firms have a process and approach—and follow it when leads come in the door. They have more time to do it—because they knew before everyone else. And, they mostly don’t respond to surprise RFPs.

2. Mobilize Quickly

Swift and clarity are the only worlds to describe a BDB’s approach. They know who they want to lead the pitch (and it may not be the person who generated the lead) and who they want as the supporting cast. Everyone embraces their role. They spend little time sweating anything other than the best fit for technical skills, chemistry, and ability to win.

3. Play to Win

BDBs pullout all the stops and do whatever it takes to win the clients they want. And they pass on those they don’t.

4. Ignore the Rules

The RFP may say “don’t contact the client”, but BDBs don’t care. They reach out, ask questions, propose ideas and strategies - even ask what types of personalities clients prefer. Again, they do whatever it takes. As a side note - clients tell us they are surprised at how many law firms obey this rule.

5. Do Something Unexpected

BDBs focus on questions, strategies, goals, and issues. Any firm statistics about number of wins and deals closed are supplied in an appendix. In effect, BDBs treat the pitch as a kick off meeting - using information gained in the banned contact discussed in the paragraph above.

6. Differentiates Themselves

Telling a potential client a story with their needs as the center point is different. The themes include how a GC’s problem will be solved; examples of how life will be better, all the ways they deliver to budget, and new angles on old problems. The story includes the strategies to convince a client this firm won’t think of missing a deadline. Most importantly, they share industry and company insights and link these to legal issues their prospective client may face.

7. Rainmakers Lead–and Have Fun

BDBs bring in the rainmakers for the win. The pitch does not automatically go to the partner who gets the lead. The originator still gets the credit and rewards, but they may not be the best to close the business. The rainmakers share credit and love the pursuit. The thought of a big win is a source of energy and strength—and BDBs have found a way to put these partners out in front.

Your firm can be a BTI Business Development Badass law firm. It’s not as daunting as it seems. Most firms who make the changes ask themselves why they didn’t do it earlier. Contact me to discuss how to make this happen at your firm—and have your attorneys think it is a great idea.

 MBR

The 18 BTI Business Development Badasses

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A pitch is as much a mind game as it is a team sport. You go in focusing on your potential client. But there are always competitors. Some of these competitors are worrisome and others are not. Then, you catch wind you are up against a BTI Business Development Badass—the firms law firm marketing leaders single out as the most aggressive and hardest competitors to beat. The BTI Business Development Badass firms take no prisoners—and may make you change your approach. Often for the better.

BTI exclusive research with more than 160 law firm leaders reveal the BTI Business Development Badass law firms for 2019. Please join me in congratulating each of the following firms:

  • Benesch

  • Cooley

  • Covington

  • Cravath, Swaine & Moore

  • Fish & Richardson

  • Gibson Dunn

  • Hogan Lovells

  • Jackson Lewis

  • Jones Day

  • Kirkland & Ellis

  • Latham & Watkins

  • Littler

  • McGuireWoods

  • Morgan Lewis

  • Ogletree Deakins

  • Quinn Emanuel

  • Ropes & Gray

  • Skadden

8 of these firms are repeat performers—able to maintain and even increase their aggressive business development posture. These consecutively badass firms are:

  • Fish & Richardson

  • Jackson Lewis

  • Jones Day

  • Kirkland & Ellis

  • Latham & Watkins

  • Morgan Lewis

  • Quinn Emanuel

  • Skadden

10 of the 18 are longstanding members of the BTI Client Service 30, including:

  • Cooley

  • Gibson Dunn

  • Hogan Lovells

  • Jones Day

  • Latham & Watkins

  • Littler

  • McGuireWoods

  • Morgan Lewis

  • Ropes & Gray

  • Skadden

The Fearsome Foursome; Gibson Dunn, Kirkland, Quinn Emanuel, and Skadden, are also feared in business development.                                              

Business development is on its way to playing a bigger role in strategy, future growth, and culture. We are keeping a close watch on the Business Develop Badasses as the future market unfolds to see how it plays out against innovation and technology.

Next week we will discuss what these firms do differently and why.

MBR

(This research is based on more than 160 independent, individual interviews with leading law firm leadership between September 2018 and January 2019.)

98% of CMOs Would Do It All Again

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Successful CMOs know how to navigate the people and culture of their firm. They know what experience counts and what’s worth caring about. The most successful CMOs have 7 lessons they wish they had known earlier. 

What Advice Would You Give Yourself When You Were Just Starting Out?
We asked more than 150 law firm marketing leaders this very question. The messages are pretty compelling:

  1. Don’t take it personally. Everyone questions new ideas. The questioners are not attacking you, they are trying to get their head around your ideas. Their approach may be hard and gruff, and they may not be believers—but it comes with the territory.

  2. Persistence. Don’t give up the ship. People won’t really understand what you are saying until they hear it 7 times. This means the initial resistance and indifference are part of the process. Very few ideas get off the ground without at least 7 clear messaging events to the right audience(s).

  3. Adapt. Learn from all the feedback you get. Rejection, resistance, and lack of enthusiasm all tell you the message or approach you are proposing may not be on target. Change your approach to play to the issues and concerns you hear.

  4.  Don’t make the job bigger than you. Don’t care more about the job than the firm cares. There will always be a few law firms who fundamentally don’t respect or care about the marketing and business development function. These law firm marketing leaders advise a new CMO to jump ship and go to a place where marketing and business development is an accepted part of the firm.

  5.  Really get to know the attorneys. Attorneys have their priorities and preferences. Marketing leaders recommend taking the time to understand these people and their personalities. You are there to make the firm and the attorneys more successful. Your knowledge of the attorneys’ personas, and how they conduct business, helps you develop your roadmap—and helps you make sure you get to know the partners most likely to make you successful.

  6.  Dial down the website. New websites are a visible success—but they take time. And, attorneys have many opinions about the website. In retrospect, these CMOs would have taken on the task, but given it a lower profile and spent more time with leadership talking about business development than web pages.

  7.  Do It! Only 2% of law firm marketing leaders tell aspiring CMOs to go elsewhere with their careers. In short, CMOs like being CMOs.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Advice for the new may also apply to the most seasoned CMOs. Let’s all keep learning and getting better. Use these insights as a start.

Any lessons we left out? Let us know. mrynowecer@bticonsulting.com

MBR

Hurry, While You Still Have A Rare Second Chance

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With luck your client’s budget is approved. After all, your client submitted their first draft last summer. The budget got worked, changed, adjusted, and reconfigured. Now it’s real. So, what is your client focusing on as the New Year starts? Those who know the answer are in the minority—but clearly have an edge.

Time to hightail it to your top clients to find out—even if you think you know. You now have a rare second chance to confirm where clients are headed and why—and these second chances don’t come often.

Call or go visit your clients while the year is still fresh. Be the first to understand how your client is thinking about:

  • Changes to cybersecurity since the Marriott incident

  • How tariffs are impacting sales

  • What tariffs are doing to supply chain agreements

  • New goals and priorities

  • Surprise initiatives introduced by management

  • Changes in their litigation settlement rates—they are plunging overall

  • New matters coming up this year

  • What kind of complexity your clients face

  • Most pressing needs and priorities

  • Resources they have and need for the year

  • What informal things you can do to help

You will learn the direct route to getting new business and position yourself as the one who cares more than anybody else—the most influential factor in getting hired. The second chance doesn’t last long—because someone else just might get there first.

We will be discussing these issues and much more during our annual webinar BTI Market Outlook and Client Service Review 2019 on January 17, 2019 at noon Eastern Time. Register now as space is filling up fast.

MBR

12 Top Trends Defining the 2019 Legal Market

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Buckle up. It’s going to be an exciting ride. Clients are spending more money on outside counsel than ever. Top legal decision makers are redefining their approach to hiring and managing their law firms. This translates into direct opportunity.

But you will find the biggest wins by targeting your client’s new needs and hiring plans, focusing on the industries where you can win, and getting there before other law firms. Please use these top trends to your immediate and lasting advantage—and join us for the BTI Market Outlook and Client Service Review 2019 where we will discuss these and much more:

  1. Cybersecurity leads all outside counsel spending increases at 9%

  2. M&A spending closely follows Cybersecurity in planned outside counsel spending increases

  3. The number of clients reporting high-stakes matters more than doubled in the last 18 months

  4. Complexity and uncertainty dominate client thinking

  5. Clients are settling less than half as many cases as 2 years ago—increasing risk and outside counsel spending

  6. Clients are cutting internal budgets to fund increasing use of outside counsel for the 3rd straight year

  7. Top legal decision makers are hiring more new law firms than ever to find the firms who can meet their needs

  8. High tech clients plan to increase spending in 9 major areas

  9. Health care clients plan to increase spending in 7 major practice areas

  10. Pharma plans the 3rd largest outside counsel spending increases of all industries

  11. Clients now look for law firms who can scale into teams quickly to manage cases, which could become large or attract other matters—these teams can come from small, medium, and large firms

  12. Clients are most impressed by law firms using technology to provide core information (i.e., updates, budgets, access to current and historical documents)

Match these trends up against your business plans. These opportunities are here now and finally big enough to drive strategic growth in law firms. We have all been waiting for the market to return to the good old days—this is the closest we have seen in a long time.

Please join us for our annual webinar BTI Market Outlook and Client Service Review 2019 on January 17, 2019 at 12:00 pm ET to discuss these trends and much more. You can also learn about these and more detailed trends and opportunities in BTI’s report BTI Practice Outlook 2019, available immediately.

Best in the market ahead and a happy, healthy new year!

MBR

How Clients Hire: Clients Using Attorney Bios in New Ways to Hire

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Clients are using attorney bios as a selection vehicle—taking attorney assignments into their own hands.

Clients are going online, picking the attorneys they want on their matters—and telling law firms exactly who they want. Think of this new phenomenon as a self-service bar for clients. Corporate counsel used to use attorney bios to check out the people law firms proposed or want to use on a matter. No more. Now, the tables are turned.

Clients don’t want no for an answer when they select their attorneys. Few understand why the chosen lawyer behind the bio would not be available for their work. After all, they are a paying client. One top legal decision maker went as far as to call an associate after the partner indicated the selected associate was “too busy” to work on this client’s matter. When asked, the client savvy associate told the client they were never too busy to work on their matters. How many associates have the where-with-all to offer the only correct answer to this client query? Most would say it isn’t their decision or they are working on another matter.

Client Bad Behavior?

Some law firm partners say this is client bad behavior. Clients politely say bunk. They want what they want—when they want it. They are paying the freight.

Client’s new self-selection process is a direct result of law firms ignoring the most basic of client management strategies. These include:

  • Developing a client team with a dedicated group of attorneys meeting client needs—clients served by well-run teams rely on their team to pick their attorneys and don’t feel the need select from the firm roster.

  • Providing a single point of accountability who also acts as an ombudsman to find the right talent for their clients when and where they need it.

  • Staffing from across the firm. Clients selecting their attorneys from your attorney bios ignore offices, departments, and practices. They are unaware of reporting relationships within their law firms. Clients just pick the attorneys they want, where ever they may be.

  • Really knowing your client. We are talking deep, ongoing knowledge where you see new needs coming—and put the right attorneys in front of clients before they go shopping for attorneys on your site. Client feedback is one of the few proven vehicles to get this coveted, forward-looking insight.

  • Providing client-centric bios. Write all your bios through client eyes—focusing what they really look for and how they interpret what you have.

  • Asking clients what they want in their attorneys for different matters. Get ahead of their process and guide them through to the attorneys you recommend.

The law firms with client teams or dedicated client relationship executives rarely see their clients select their own attorneys. Clients will still check out the attorneys on your website and LinkedIn—but more with a mind towards learning instead of hiring.

Finally, value is destroyed when clients are picking their own attorneys. One of the many benefits of working with outside counsel is relying on these law firms to take over staffing responsibilities. The more work clients take on, the less value law firms provide.

Law firms protect client relationships and value by staying ahead of staffing and needs. We recommend enforcing client teams, single accountability, firmwide staffing strategies, and client feedback to ensure you know how to staff up for client needs before they ever ask. Law firms who let clients choose their staff before consulting you will start to be viewed as hotels for attorneys—inviting discounts, discussions of hourly rates, and logistics instead of solving client problems. Premium rates go to the problem solvers who make their clients’ lives easier.

Special thanks to Lisa Gasbarre Black, General Counsel, Catholic Charities, Alfred C. Perry Jr, General Counsel at Westfield Bank, and Ed Blakemore, Assistant General Counsel at Rockwell Automation for inspiring this blog post. I had the honor of moderating a panel with these dynamic individuals at the Practice Development Institute presented by The Legal Marketing Association and The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association on November 15, 2018.

MBR

3 High-Performing Practice Leaders Share 5 Tips and Secrets

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Practice Leaders agree and disagree on a lot of things. But when 3 high-performing practice leaders agree, it’s a learning moment. I enjoyed having an insightful panel discussion with Rich Moche of Mintz, Tom Schulte of Clifford Chance, and Philip Sellinger of Greenberg Traurig at the Practice Management 2.0 Conference in Chicago. We focused on how to drive performance. Each of the 3 panelists presented a different perspective—but the following common themes emerged:

Prioritize

The move into practice leadership means an exponential increase in situations with an apparent need for attention. The solution—prioritize. Don’t limit yourself to taking a hard look at the list of items competing for your precious attention. Scrutinize and decide what you absolutely must do and can’t delegate—and what needs to be done now. Now does not mean just short term—now can mean starting strategic initiatives as well.

Prioritizing can become a second nature skill, enabling practice leaders—and their practices—to be more focused and get substantially more done.

Delegate

Delegation quickly follows prioritization in lessons learned. These practice leaders looked to see what they could delegate up, sideways, down, or to support staff in some way. Limiting yourself to downward delegation constrains the ability to leverage your time. Practice leaders are moving more towards using support and management staff to help get things done.

Embrace Other Professionals Within the Firm

Embracing other professionals is a key part of a practice leader’s strategy. This includes the Marketing/BD department as well as HR. But, the newest area of support is coming from practice managers. These individuals help with running the practice and ensuring associates are being utilized—both for associate careers and maximizing billable time. Some of these practice managers drive communications and act as the go-to person to try to resolve issues which may not need practice leader attention.

Learn Why Not What

As a relationship manager, partners want to know what their client really wants, needs—and how to make this happen. As a practice manager, your focus becomes: “Why did we win this work”? What can we learn from this to win more work? What did clients see as our strengths and why did we stand out? All the practice managers agreed—the only way to learn is to ask clients—whether they interview clients themselves or through 3rd parties.

Talk and Listen to Millennials

The generational divide is top of mind. Our panelists suggest the best strategy for understanding and getting the most out of your millennials is to talk to them—and listen to what they have to say. The millennials may or may not want to be lifers at your firm but—the more they are heard and believe their voice matters—the longer they will stick around. These practice managers also note millennials have a sense of how the business of law and delivery of legal services may be disrupted—as disruption is a routine part of their life.

Overall, these practice managers are optimistic about the future but don’t suggest it will be easy. Each is highly focused and has a clear idea on where their practices are headed—and what they want their practice to look like. Successful practices use different strategies than other practices. These tactics are among those defining the high performers.

The panel consisted of:

Richard H. Moche, a Member at Mintz Levin and Chair of its Public Finance, Real Estate, Bankruptcy, and Environmental Division

Philip Sellinger, who recently served as Co-chair of the Global Litigation Practice at Greenberg Traurig and currently serves as Managing Shareholder- New Jersey; and Regional Operating Shareholder

Thomas Schulte, Senior Counsel at Clifford Chance. Tom recently served as Head of the Americas Banking & Finance Practice and was a member of the Firm's Partnership Council, the supervisory board of the global firm.

I extend my deep appreciation to Rich, Tom, and Philip for their candor, time, and energy in sharing these thoughts with a captivated audience at the Practice Management 2.0 Conference held last week (October 4, 2018) at the Gleacher Center at the University of Chicago.

MBR

Making Better Associates Faster

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Associates want more than money. They want some recognition—not much, but some—and they want to feel like they have a future. A big part of this sense of future is feeling like their firm is investing in them. Law firms can take immediate steps to make the future more obvious and brighter.

Ask associates to make decisions before you think they are ready

Not the biggest decisions, but just ahead of where you think their knowledge and experience are. Put these associates in a position to chase instead of following their performance. The associates who will grow into leaders want the opportunity to strut their stuff and be challenged.

Their ability to make the right decision is an intangible benefit providing confidence and increased job satisfaction. They may be wrong in their decisions, but they will learn faster by making their mistakes in a protected environment. Be ready to coach and explain why they might have made a wrong decision in time to make it right.

Find a reason to bring associates to clients

The best associates thrive on client air. Nothing compares to observing clients, interacting with clients, and seeing how different things can be with a client present. Your associates can observe partner behaviors and discussions, and gain insight into the art of client management and how to talk to clients. Associates will also be better able to support partners as they hone their knowledge of what partners need.

Ask your best clients if you can bring associates to meetings to learn and observe

Most clients welcome this opportunity. They enjoy mentoring and influencing an associate’s career. This gesture shows clients how client-focused you are as you teach associates what clients think. If you are skilled and/or lucky, your client will invest in your associate’s success.

Give your top associate a specific role in client meetings

Then, immediately give them detailed coaching on how to play this role. This includes practice sessions before you go to the client meeting. Don’t go easy—practice the difficult questions as well as the softballs.

Ask your associates to research one major client in depth to find new information and insights

Understanding a client’s business is one of the biggest law firm differentiators in the market. The best associates crave information about the client for whom they perform work. This adds up to a high-power opportunity for associates and law firms. Ask an associate to perform business research on a key client where they bill time. Ask them to look beyond immediate headlines and find product plans, growth plans, M&A history, and business challenges.

Ask these associates to use all firm resources but insist they synthesize the data into usable analysis, and bullet points. Ask for partner-ready summaries which relationship managers can use to discuss things with clients. Associates love the responsibility to make an impact and partners get help in developing high-value client conversations.

Train, train, train, and train

Few things say I’m investing in your future like training. Training goes well beyond teaching associates new and useful skills…it drives culture. Associates adopt the values the training supports. Start training in client service and watch associates embrace the importance of client service. Train them every year and they will believe it is increasingly important in everything you do.

We recommend developing and delivering associate training in 4 key areas:

  • Client service—a core component of any client-facing business. You can’t train anyone early enough nor hone their skills enough. This associate training will also improve partner support and productivity—as associates use newly acquired client skills with partners.

  • Business development—a proven tool to draw out the associates with interest and potential talent in business development. Use this training to introduce business development and bring it into the firm’s culture early. This will make business development a more natural and effective process when the associates reach partner.

  • Social media—your associates are already using it. Leverage their natural inclination to incorporate social media into their professional success. The art of social media for business can be taught and is effective for making new contacts and clients.

  • Networking—always talked about but rarely taught. Teaching associates when, where, and how to network is giving them fuel for their careers and business development.

Associates are more valuable than ever—and continue to increase in value. Law firms are working harder to keep them—and keep them longer. These steps turn associates into better attorneys, makes them feel more invested in the firm, and helps define their clear contribution to the firm besides their billable hours. This is your opportunity to make your associates better and keep them around a lot longer.

MBR

Clients Pay Their Highest Rates to These Law Firms–and They Are Worth It

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Clients are slimming down the list of firms to whom they pay their highest rate. This can help explain why the top rate hasn’t budged in 3 years—at a lofty $2,000 an hour. And, only 56% of clients say these firms are truly worth it.

Clients pay the highest rates when they need deep insight, understanding, and unflinching confidence in the ability to deliver. This presumes the firms bring unique knowledge and understanding of the risk. The following firms stand out above all others for: 1) Being identified as the firm clients pay the highest rate; 2) Clients sharing this high rate with BTI; and 3) The firm was well worth this highest rate.

The Highest of the High

The above firms are part of the BTI Client Service 30—the law firms clients single out for delivering the best client service.

Garnering Super-Premium Rates

The firms below also enjoy their clients’ highest rates—but not quite as high and not quite as many clients as the firms above. Please join us in congratulating:

Follow the Money

It is no coincidence one of the largest spending industries tops the list of highest rates paid. These rates are averages of the highest rate paid reported in each industry:

Life Sciences
Insurance
Banking
Transportation
Chemicals
High Tech
Manufacturing
Professional Services
Utilities
Retail
Media
Energy
Consumer Goods
Telecom
Financial Services

$959.17
$882.65
$869.06
$863.18
$863.13
$857.78
$838.89
$836.72
$830.83
$828.75
$823.75
$814.25
$812.93
$808.89
$773.75

 

We live in a world where top legal decision makers are relentless in wringing maximum value out of their law firms. These firms are living proof of value being delivered at the very top of the rate spectrum. The firms who enjoy these rates gain their credibility by:

  • Dropping everything and showing up—or making it seem so

  • Showing up with piercing questions and a plan

  • Pivoting with ease—as in changing the plan when facts, circumstances, and/or goals change

  • Mobilizing quickly—and never discussing resource issues in front of their client

  • Bringing bigger teams on their matter—there IS safety in numbers—top dollar is not lean and mean

  • Being ready to talk budget right then and there

  • Speaking unequivocally in their thoughts and recommendations

  • Having one person clearly accountable

  • Exuding a certain calm

As more clients pay more law firms their highest rates, their expectations will soar along with these rates. As complex work grows, look for clients who want you to look high-rate ready—especially since more and more matters are morphing from complex to bet-the-company midstream. Every relationship partner can start adopting the top-rate behaviors at any time—this will give you practice for when the big day comes—and just might get you happier clients at premium rates.

You can see the list of all firms earning the highest rates in our newest report BTI Highest Rate Firms 2018. Order your complimentary copy here.

MBR

*Based on BTI research conducted between September 2017 and January 2018. BTI conducted more than 360 independent, individual interviews with top legal decision makers at large organizations with $1 billion or more in revenue.

Brush Up Your Resume, Here Are the Best Jobs in the Future of Law

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Every law firm, every company has a tell. New positions at your firm tell the world so much about your strategic intent. You can tell if the firm is bold, passive, locked in the past, or unsure about the future—but everyone will know what story you’re telling with these positions, if they examine them closely.

New job titles are one of the most reliable indicators of real change. Bold new strategies create new responsibilities. They demand new skills and create original titles. If and when you start recruiting outside the firm, you are broadcasting your plan.

Keep a keen eye on new hires, new positions, and listen closer when your phone rings—it could be about one of these strategic leadership positions destined to change the future of law. And, it will change the nature of client relationships for the better, especially when the following positions appear:

Head of National Pursuits

Responsible for driving the success of large-scale, strategic pursuits, this role takes ownership of all activities from the moment a partner says, “I want this client” to the follow-up and ultimate win. The HNP assembles their business development team using resources from across the firm, sets the strategy, and shapes the story and the pitch. The HNP also can say no, if it looks like a prospect is not worth the firm’s time and effort to pursue.

The HNP is responsible for all pursuits over a certain threshold amount (in revenue or potential fees), and actively pursues potential clients from the firm’s strategic target list. The HNP cuts across all organizational boundaries to secure a win. The HNP mostly defines strategy and approach—but will pitch at the mega opportunities.

National Business Development Partners

These are the firm’s best business developers who are also practicing attorneys. Firms have reallocated their billable hour targets, so these partners spend more time on business development activities. These partners operate nationally and globally to win the most important clients. They work with the HNP and local partners but clearly take the lead on pitches, briefings, and front-line business development. This team includes rising stars as well as rainmakers—the primary qualification is a strong ability to quickly engage and educate clients.

Like the HNP, this team develops business with potential clients over a certain threshold amount in revenues or potential fees, or targeted clients from the strategic target list.

Vice Chair – Clients

Responsible for all client-facing activities, this senior leader ensures the firm puts clients first in all its systems, protocols, practices, and activities. The Vice Chair – Clients makes sure the firm’s relationship partners receive and promptly act on feedback. This includes feedback from the countless interviews the Vice Chair – Clients conducts, as well as 3rd-party objective feedback to add granularity and depth to firm-gathered feedback. This role requires strong analytical skills to translate the data into actions the firm can use to drive revenue growth.

This Vice Chair individual is also responsible for managing the firm’s most important clients—those who are so important they are “house accounts”—truly a firm client. These are the largest 50 to 200 clients and are managed by senior partners who report to the Vice Chair.

The Vice Chair also works with relationship partners to develop detailed strategic account plans, identify the best resources from across the firm, and provide training in the care, handling, and development of the firm’s largest and most important clients. (This training is often a template for client service training throughout the rest of the firm.)

Chief Digital Officer

Law firms can easily drown in digital opportunities. The Chief Digital Officer ensures their firm thrives and harnesses opportunities in a strategic manner. The CDO drives growth for a law firm by integrating digital strategies, tactics, and investments to ensure each activity supports the others. These strategies include internal processes, legal work, knowledge management, client-facing processes, and recruiting, at a minimum. The CDO evaluates, anticipates, and plans for new digital strategies to ensure the firm is always one step ahead.

Partner in Charge of Client Experience

Looking beyond client service, this partner ensures clients receive the appropriate attention between matters, after cases, and throughout all points from matter inception moving forward. Client experience includes planned interactions, education, and value-added touch points every partner can use to keep relationships growing—even during downtime. Expect this partner to provide tools and templates for discussion, coaching in continuing client conversations, and a roadmap of when to reach out to clients with what.

A key component of this role is working with the Vice Chair – Clients to obtain ongoing, measurable feedback from clients to ensure the clients have a consistently superior experience with their team.

Partner in Charge of Alliances and Teaming

Kirkland doesn’t want small matters. So, they are building a network of firms they can refer to their clients to send the smaller deals. This is informal now, but will evolve. Law firms looking to drive profitability with this highly strategic approach look to team up with alliance partners and collaborators in key practices where small matters are intermingled with large matters. This is a two-way street. Huge benefits can be had for referrers and referees.

The most successful law firms will pick the alliance partners in advance and develop a network where smooth and easy transitions are the norm.

“DātAttorney”

AI in legal isn’t coming—it’s already here, and is creating new types of lawyers. These attorneys learn and develop AI/knowledge-mining tools. From making legal services more efficient to being able to predict legal issues before they arise, dātAttorneys merge law and technology to vastly improve the client experience.

Independent Board Member

You can count the number of law firms with independent board members on 1 hand, maybe 2, if you look hard. Independent directors provide objectivity and outside perspective. Law firms will start to embrace these independent directors as a source of strength—and will use them to help develop more robust strategic plans.

PwC added 2 independent directors to their Board in June 2017. They set the precedent for all other professional services firms.

These positions (or equivalents) already exist in almost every other profession. They not only exist—but are critical components of success. Law firms can let these positions evolve or map out the positions and dive in now. Those diving in now will set the benchmark for everyone else—and clients will be the first to note the difference.

MBR

Clients have 2 big sources of insomnia. Law firms only cause 1.

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Top legal officers are questioning themselves and their strategies. Something they don’t often do. And it’s keeping them up at night. The decision makers are unnerved by their law firms’ behavior—as they are now relying on their outside counsel more than ever before.

Almost 30% of corporate counsel are unnerved because of the following experiences with their primary law firms:

  • Partner turnover—lateral movement is making clients less confident in their firm’s ability to deliver without gaps and turnover. Clients are also concerned about the loss of institutional memory and the additional labor and elapsed time required to bring a new partner up to speed.
     
  • Partner retirements—clients know when key partners at their primary law firms are nearing retirement—but clients believe their firms just passively react to the departures and let things take their course. These clients believe there is no formal plan or thought as to how their matters will be managed going forward. This has the same negative impact as partner turnover.
     
  • Loss of associates—just as clients are getting to know associates working on their cases, these associates seem to disappear. Clients are fully aware of the high associate turnover rate—but believe their firms will be figuring out how to retain their best associates—which, of course, is any associate your client really likes.
     
  • No support—clients are discovering their law firms just want to do the work. These firms have no apparent interest in helping their client think through new issues, initiate and carry on conversations to help clients sort out their thoughts, and engage at a level beyond the scope of work. Clients believe this type of dialogue is not only helpful but also crucial to understanding client goals and sensitivities.
     
  • No team—many attorneys are doing the work, and clients don’t see 1 single attorney as being in charge or accountable. Clients perceive the finger pointing among partners when things don’t go according to plan as evasiveness.
     
  • Inconsistency—clients experience superstars, mediocrity, and embarrassments all from the same firm. These corporate counsel openly worry the performance will sink to the lowest level delivered.

Virtually each of these behaviors is fixable and unintended—but are on their way to ruining a client relationship just as clients have cut their law firm rosters to the smallest number ever and are ramping up spending with the firms who remain.

The 2nd biggest source of GC insomnia is making sure the work gets done. And done right. Clients are not convinced their law firms will deliver. GCs have stopped adding to staff and are experiencing attrition within their ranks. The search for the right formula prevents 13% from sleeping soundly.

General Counsel report litigation, increased transaction activity, data privacy, compliance, and cost control round out the sources of insomnia—but pale in comparison to the 2 above.

Every law firm and every partner can help clients sleep better. Be the partner who always delivers, never leaves a seed of doubt, and is proud to be accountable—even when things go wrong. Offer secondments and thoughts on how clients can prioritize their workload. Maybe even suggest a few strategies where you can help get things done. You can only be this partner if you are talking to your client. And, these ongoing conversations will help you, and your client, get the best sleep of all while others toss and turn.

MBR

(Based on BTI research conducted on a rolling basis between March 2017 and February 2018. BTI conducted more than 350 independent, individual interviews with CLOs and General Counsel at companies with $1 billion in revenue or more, each of whom responded.)

6 Killer Rules to Developing Business

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The best business developers play by different rules than everyone else. Some rules come naturally and others are learned. Aspiring rainmakers can learn from the best. BTI isolated rules which serve as guideposts for those who bring in the most business. These are the 6 rules for killer business development.

 


1.       Know your client

2.      If you don’t have a solution, stop

3.      Leave the sales pitch at home

4.      Link to business

5.      Every question matters

6.      Relationships are king

The best part of these 6 rules is almost anyone who wants to adopt them can. You can start with one—the one feeling most natural to you. Then add another, and another, until you get to the six. These rules will not only add to your business development prowess but also will add to your billable hours as well—how do you think the top rainmakers bill so much time?

JPD

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: https://youtu.be/6ZUGTpSeQ2I

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Building Activity-Based Client Service Metrics

Aligning partner objectives with client service metrics changes the effectiveness of client service standards for the better. The Mad Clientist shares 3 of the activity-based metrics top-performing firms use to help you get started.

You can view the video below, or on YouTube directly here: https://youtu.be/OR2fW4roNMw

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.