Business development is turning law firms into hawks and doves. The hawks seek out the clients they want. They invest more time and thought into winning and have a strict go/no go policy for RFPs. The hawks show up more prepared than anyone one else and way more than clients expected. More than competitors expected, too.
13% of law firm leadership partners characterize their firm’s business development as aggressive. This means 87% don’t; they are BD doves. Some doves will turn into hawks. And some will rise above the hawks and become the Business Development Badasses who rule the world of acquiring new business.
We asked more than 150 law firm leadership partners, including the self-proclaimed hawks, who is at the pinnacle of being strategically aggressive—these are the firms to beat to win at business development.
These 17 firms are today’s BTI Business Development Badasses:
• Davis Polk
• Fish & Richardson
• Fried Frank
• Jackson Lewis
• Jones Day
• King & Spalding
• Kirkland & Ellis
• Latham & Watkins
• Lowenstein Sandler
• Mayer Brown
• Morgan Lewis
• Paul, Weiss
• Quinn Emanuel
• White & Case
These firms go deep—bringing strategy, knowledge, and resources to bear. They think in terms of proposing teams with the right skills and chemistry. The BTI Business Development Badasses communicate with clients early and often, blatantly ignoring the rules about not contacting clients before the pitch. They follow up with thoughtful, targeted information based on these communications.
The best of this group start an informal dialogue—as if they have already won the client. An approach worth adopting no matter how aggressive you are.
It has never been more difficult to keep existing clients and acquire new clients. And it will only get harder from here. This will make the difference between the hawks, the doves, and the Business Development Badasses so important.
(This research is based on more than 150 independent, individual interviews with leading law firm leadership between June 2017 and January 2018.)