13 Words to Grow Your Law Firm

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Pick a word. Not just any word—a meaty, provocative word. Select the kind of word proven to evoke new thinking and gain new perspective. Think about your word every day for at least 30 days. Then think about using these words to drive improved performance. Here are 13 The Mad Clientist suggests.

  1. Invert – Invert your thinking. Take one thought or perception and turn it upside down—what if your perception was completely different? Just pretending improve outcomes, thinking, and empathy.

  2. Purge – Recognize the good, bad, or lack of benefit of your decision—and move on.

  3. Hundreds – There are hundreds of reasons not to do things. Find your reason to do things—or ignore the hundreds.

  4. Decide – Decide to overcome the obstacles.

  5. Move – Some competitor somewhere wants to crush you like a bug. Avoid this by always moving forward. Stagnate and you are crushed.

  6. Ask – Get out of your own head. Ask your clients what they think, and why they think it.

  7. Activity – Activity begets activity. Good activity begets good activity. Start making things happen and watch how many other good things happen.

  8. Bill – Build business development and client service into your legal service delivery to create even more billable hours.

  9. Control – The power to act is within your control.

  10. Share – Tell others about your ideas and use them to build better ones.

  11. Engage – Engage in one activity you don’t have time for and don’t feel comfortable doing. Just one.

  12. Stop – The time for thinking is done, at least for a moment. It’s time to act.

  13. One – Start with one behavior to improve or change. One client and one change at time drives many changes when all are engaged.

Each word represents a behavior or issue standing in the way of change. We recommend taking on one word at a time. This works out to different word every month. 30 days is sufficient to put you in a position where you think about how you want to change—and make it happen.

Just picking one word a month makes an impact. Each impact is enough for every one of your clients to see a difference and will put you in a position to grab some of the new business coming into the market before anyone else—and make you feel better about your performance while doing it.

Here’s to the power of words.

MBR

66 Law Firms Leading Litigation as Market Surges

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You are looking at the highest levels of corporate legal spending in a decade. High-stakes work is growing like a weed. Clients are expecting an influx of new matters and plan to spend more on existing matters. Clients are cutting their internal budgets to fund new outside counsel needs, Why? Increasing workloads and more complex needs clients don’t want to handle and don’t have the resources to handle in-house.

Here is what to expect in the 2019 litigation landscape along with 66 law firms best positioned for these new opportunities. The Powerhouse and Standout law firms in the links below are the ones corporate counsel tell us they are turning to for their most pressing litigation needs in 2019.

The IP Litigation Outlook: The Powerhouse and Standout Law Firms

Why GCs are Hiring: Fewer, but bigger and more complex matters.

The Class Actions Outlook: The Powerhouse and Standout Law Firms

Why GCs are Hiring: Increasing risk and exposure and ever more innovative plaintiffs.

The Complex Employment Litigation Outlook: The Powerhouse and Standout Law Firms

Why GCs are Hiring: Changes in regulations around wages; increased concern about wage and hour issues; a growth in investigations, spurred by sexual harassment and workplace culture.

The Product Liability Litigation Outlook: The Powerhouse and Standout Law Firms

Why GCs are Hiring: Increased caseloads, more complex matters as a result of increasingly complex products and data these products gather and rely on.

Clients are reevaluating who and what types of firms they want to use as the nature of Product Liability claims undergoes a fundamental change.

The Complex Commercial Litigation Outlook: The Powerhouse and Standout Law Firms

Why GCs are Hiring: Increases in 5 industries is enough to drive growth and increased spending on outside counsel.

Learn more about how your firm can take advantage of new spending and matters in 2019—and what your firm can do to adapt, in the new, just released BTI Litigation Outlook 2019: Changes, Trends and Opportunities for Law Firms.

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

Where Law Firms Think They're Great, and Where They Ain't

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The B players outperform the A players.

They are hungrier, want to make change and are ready to fight city hall (aka management), if need be. These law firm marketing leaders are focused on blocking and tackling issues such as: client service, client feedback, basic business development skills, client teams, and an occasional industry group.

This is from the results of more than 160 law firm marketing leaders’ self-assessment of 15 key areas of performance.

B Players are Building with the Basics

The B players are much harder on themselves—offering a self-ranking of 8 out of a possible 10. But, they sport the highest 3-year growth rate of all law firms, at just over 5%. It pays to be just a bit humble and focus on the basics.

A Players are Building Strategy before the Basics

The self-ranked A players show the slowest 3-year CAGR, at a 1.2%. The self-ranked top performers are focusing on the strategic. They are emphasizing legal prowess, technology, innovation, content marketing, industry groups, and collaboration—all important. But these programs rarely show results without training in the basics. These strategic programs are highly effective in attracting clients—but don’t turn into business unless partners can turn these leads into clients—using the basics which remain the focus of the B players above.

Doing What Works – the Self-Ranked 7s

Law firm marketing leaders ranking themselves 7 and below receive less institutional support than the self-ranked 8s, 9s, and 10s. The 7s put all their energy into getting programs, tactics, or a single effort in place—but they are making forward progress—at the 3-year CAGR of 4.3%.

These 7s are like the 8s—they focus on basics and building blocks. And don’t let go until their program is up and running—and working.

Influence by Osmosis

At a self-ranking of 6, the law firm marketing leaders are making an impact at the partner level. They may get a firmwide program or 2 off the ground (usually client feedback) and will use the feedback and their coaching skills to drive improvement and change. These CMOs take on the one-to-one relationships with the vested partners—and drive change with each one. The good news—the vested partners are typically the most interested in building client relationships and new business—so it’s well-placed leverage.

The self-ranked 6s deliver a CAGR of 2.8%.

The Disenfranchised

Ranking their firm’s performance at 5 or less—these CMOs are most likely to be in the market looking for a new gig—they try—but can’t get a lot of traction. They are pushing water up hill and want to make more progress. Usually, somewhere other than their current firm.

Few Areas of Greatness

Only 3 areas really stand out with a self-ranking of 10—with more than 20% of CMOs ranking themselves a 10—these are:

-        Cultivating Work from Existing Clients
-        Setting Strategic Direction
-        Providing Tools for BD

Conversely, more than 50% of CMOs rank their firms at 6 or lower in 4 areas: 

-        Partner Accountability
-        Using Metrics to Drive BD
-        Attracting New Marquee Clients
-        BD Training for Attorneys

You can see the full results of how CMOs rank their firms in each of the 15 activities by clicking here.

The best performers show a bit of humility and hunger. They show how mastering the basics beats the strategic at this stage of the market. But, it won’t always be this way. Business development is going to become a lot more difficult—and those firms who mastered the basics will be the first to really get benefits from a well-crafted strategy.

 
 

Based on in-depth interviews BTI conducted with more than 160 law firm marketing leaders between September 2016 and May 2017.

5 New Trends Point to Big Changes

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The ink isn’t quite dry yet on our most current research. But, we see clear signs of subtle change with big impacts. We just finished in-depth interviews with more than 300 top legal decision makers—here is what we are learning:

Complex Work is Morphing into Bet-The-Company Work Mid Matter

Matters starting out as complex are growing into bet-the-company matters. Top legal officers report the newly bestowed bet-the-company status is a direct result of increased financial exposure. Litigation matters start out contained—then grow and attract regulators, other plaintiffs, and a growing list of securities litigators if the company is public.

This trend is bad for clients but gives law firms real opportunity to join the exclusive bet-the company club for firms who are looking for entry. It is also causing serious damage to law firms who don’t realize they are now handling bet-the-company work.

Clients Have Less Patience than Ever

The value of a client’s time is increasing as the complexity of their matters remains at peak levels. Clients are spending more time managing risk and strategizing—leaving less time to track down attorneys, matter details, budget status, and other issues which steal precious time from your client’s main mission. And the more valuable a client’s time—the less they have for nonvalue-added tasks. Law firms are losing serious work because they don’t provide comprehensive and timely status reports. This reporting is just as important as the legal strategy.

Large firms are in their 4th year of outspending other law firms in client development—and keep winning more work than other firms.

Much is being made of the largest law firms growing much faster than other firms. 2018 marks the 4th year in a row these largest firms spend 1/3 more on client development than all other law firms. This is the reason they are winning so much new business—they have been spending more and working harder to get it.

Mid-size Firms Living Large in Mid-size M&A

Mid-size and smaller firms are carving out preferred relationships with the largest law firms to handle the small deals larger firms don’t find economical. The largest firms are all chasing large deals and private equity. It’s a great market with great clients. But these large firms can’t do small deals—and don’t want to. A clever group of mid-size firms, think 100 to 400 attorneys, are making a nice living developing preferred relationships to handle these smaller deals and service the daylights out of the clients and larger law firms.

This adds to the already established trend of mid-size firms having an especially strong position with non-US-based companies for making US-based acquisitions.

AFAs are Back

Client interest in AFAs is gaining new momentum as complex litigation grows faster than budgets are increasing—and is squeezing the routine work. Top legal officers are finding AFAs and settlements are 2 powerful tools to manage budgets and squeeze more litigation money out of the budget for the more expensive and complex matters.

Spot and Ride the Trends

The fast movers are grabbing clients while other law firms aren’t even looking as they take advantage of these trends. It is 1 the most effective tools to develop business and build enduring relationships.

Partners in a continuing dialogue with their clients are the first to learn these trends—clients will have shared them through words and behaviors. You can also predict and anticipate these trends through well-crafted and executed client feedback. Your chances of picking and using these trends to your advantage are directly linked to the frequency and depth of your client feedback. They are also linked to knowing exactly why clients bring you in and if the reason they bring you in changes. And, one thing is as sure as death and taxes—client needs will change.

MBR

Best of the Best in 5 Branding Factors and 14 Law Firms Boosting Their Already Strong Brand

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Only 1 strategy drives a better brand—making a better direct and indirect client experience in the 9 factors driving brand. This means leveraging strength and intentional branding while minimizing unintentional acts of branding.

Once law firms reach the BTI Brand Elite 28—it becomes exponentially harder to improve your brand. But 14 firms have figured it out. Each of the firms who manage to move up have different approaches focused on a common goal. They are focused on improving key parts of the client experience which have the most impact.

Please join me in congratulating the 14 firms who were able to increase their rank to get into or while in the BTI Brand Elite:

And, don’t miss out on the significant changes in the 5 other key branding factors clients rely on to separate one law firm from another, make hiring decisions, and pick and choose who they ultimately work with—and who they don’t:

Clients See a Few Law Firms Become Premium Worthy
More Bet-the-Company Work but Fewer Bet-the-Company Law Firms
Clients See More Law Firms Ready to Lead the Industry
Clients Shorten Short Lists
Fewer Law Firms Earning Client Recommendations

Learn how to earn premium worthy status, and keep it, in the new BTI Brand Elite 2018: Client Perceptions of the Best-Branded Law Firms, available now.

Clients See a Few Law Firms Become Premium Worthy

Clients pay you more when you bring more. They pay you premiums when you bring insight others don’t. Clients face more complex work and a greater quantity of it—making insights all the more valuable.

Clients single out 3 more law firms able to bring this premium insight—increasing the number of premium-worthy law firms by 3% over last year. However, none of the 2018 newcomers made Best of the Best, leaving the number unchanged from last year.

Please congratulate these premium-worthy firms:

Leaders

Learn how to earn premium worthy status, and keep it, in the new BTI Brand Elite 2018: Client Perceptions of the Best-Branded Law Firms, available now.

More Bet-the-Company Work but Fewer Bet-the-Company Law Firms

Top legal decision makers report they have more bet-the-company work than ever, but the number of firms clients think can handle the pinnacle of all matters shrank by 11%. Client demand and expectations for this high-risk work are going up faster than supply—good news for those firms who can brand themselves as a bet-the-company firm. Please join us in congratulating the following firms with the best bet-the-company brands:

Leaders

Learn more about why legal decision makers think fewer law firms are a sure bet in the new in the new BTI Brand Elite 2018: Client Perceptions of the Best-Branded Law Firms, available now.

Clients See More Law Firms Ready to Lead the Industry

Clients want to work with the firm who will be around to lead the industry. Top legal decision makers don’t want to work with law firms they think will get merged away or otherwise disappear. This is especially true for litigation which can last years. From a relationship standpoint, clients get concerned about conflicts, changes in command, and loss of institutional knowledge—so they want to work with the long-term leaders, almost as a risk management tool.

Top legal decision makers see 51 more law firms than last year as The Survivors. Please congratulate the following firms on their ability to convince the most demanding clients they will be last firm standing:

Learn more about the future market leaders—and how your firm can join them—in the new BTI Brand Elite 2018: Client Perceptions of the Best-Branded Law Firms, available now.

Clients Shorten Short Lists

Clients Shorten Short Lists

Everyone wants to at least be on the short list. But clients want no part of it—trimming their short lists by 1% this year and 22% over the last 3. Clients indicate they want more knowledge from fewer firms. They have cut their law firm rosters to record lows. Short lists were bound to follow this path. The firms who remain or regain their place are looking at bigger chunks of business.

We found 3 fewer Best of the Best and 7 fewer Leaders. Please join us in giving an especially hearty congratulations to the firms below who lead the pack in claiming their place on client short lists. The law firms enjoying a strong position on client Short Lists in the just-released BTI Brand Elite 2018 are: 

Learn how to secure—and continually defend—your position on client short lists in the new BTI Brand Elite 2018: Client Perceptions of the Best-Branded Law Firms, available now.

Fewer Law Firms Earning Client Recommendations

Top legal decision makers recommend 241 law firms, 19.7% fewer law firms for 2018, continuing a 3-year downtrend. The same decision makers recommended 345 law firms in 2015.

Clients are facing more complex work. They largely have lost patience for any law firms who don’t relish this work or who can’t keep within budget and keep them in up-to-the-minute news. 

Clients rely on peer-to-peer recommendations as their best source of learning about new law firms—meaning recommended firms have an edge. Please join us in congratulating the firms with the best branding in earning unprompted recommendations from top legal decision makers:

Leaders

Learn exactly who is earning client recommendations—and why—and where you stand compared to everyone else in the new BTI Brand Elite 2018: Client Perceptions of the Best-Branded Law Firms, available now.

14 Firms Move Up in the BTI Brand Elite 28 for 2018

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Try as you might to manage, control, focus, and provide clarity—ultimately clients define your brand based on their experience with you. Law firm brands are volatile. Clients change their perceptions of law firms based on their direct and indirect experience.

Despite this, or perhaps because of these changes—clients identify 4 new law firms as part of the 2018 BTI Brand Elite 28—the law firms with brands 7 times stronger than all other law firms. 14 firms within the BTI Brand Elite moved up—all edging for the number-one spot—because they will get the most inbound referrals.

4 New Firms Join the 2018 BTI Brand Elite 28

Akin Gump, Paul Hastings, and Paul, Weiss make their debut appearances in the BTI Brand Elite 28 while Mayer Brown returns after a brief absence. Clients note an increase in client service and innovation at Akin Gump, Paul Hastings and Paul, Weiss. Clients credit increasing innovation from Mayer Brown for the return to the BTI Brand Elite 28.

Jones Day Takes the Top Brand

Top legal decision makers rank Jones Day as the strongest brand for the 2nd year in a row. The world’s most demanding clients rank Jones Day as Best of the Best in all 9 branding attributes. The firm has been able to continue to improve its client service, innovation, and can be relied on for the truly bet-the-company work. This is not a random set of events. Improving on an already best-in-class performance demands vision, a plan, implementation, commitment, and the will.

14 Firms Moved Up

Brands are more volatile than most people give them credit for, resulting in lost deals and lower rates. Despite this we are pleased to report half of the BTI Brand Elite 28 from 2017 moved up at least one place in 2018. The firms below demonstrated the behaviors behind the 9 factors driving brand hirability. Please congratulate the 28 law firms with the best brand according to the most demanding clients.

 
  1. 1. Jones Day
  2. 2. Skadden
  3. 3. Latham & Watkins
  4. 4. Dentons
  5. 5. DLA Piper
  6. 6. Cooley
  7. 7. Baker McKenzie
  8. 8. Gibson Dunn
  9. 9. Sidley
  10. 10. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
  11. 11. White & Case
  12. 12. Hogan Lovells
  13. 13. Morgan Lewis
  14. 14. Dechert
  1. 15. Cravath, Swaine & Moore
  2. 16. Kirkland & Ellis
  3. 17. Davis Polk
  4. 18. Sullivan & Cromwell
  5. 19. Greenberg Traurig
  6. 20. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
  7. 21. Reed Smith
  8. 22. McGuireWoods
  9. 23. Paul, Weiss
  10. 24. Pillsbury
  11. 25. Mayer Brown
  12. 26. Norton Rose Fulbright
  13. 27. Polsinelli
  14. 28. Paul Hastings

You can learn about the detailed changes in your firm’s brand with your copy of the BTI Brand Elite 2018: Client Perceptions of the Best-Branded Law Firms, available now.

Any change in client experience can easily change the brand. Some of these changes are strategic and intentional—others are the result of unintended branding events.

BTI conducted more than 686 interviews with top legal decision makers to single out the law firms with the best and strongest brands. Each of the CLOs provided detailed answers and explanations—and have deep opinions about law firm brands.

MBR

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