Every law firm I have advised has really smart lawyers with great ideas about improving the business and moving their firms to the next level of profitability and performance. Discussions with firm leaders reveal no shortage of creative ideas and sound business strategies. So what prevents more firms from moving their practices to the next level? I have found that the most common barrier to greater success and more profit is that firms often lack what I have come to call the “Will to Act.”
We all know the Conventional Wisdom about the legal market: It’s never been more competitive! And we’ve all heard the obvious solutions: Try harder! Take market share! Merge with a thousand lawyers you don’t know!
Roch Parayre has a different idea. A strategy partner at Heidrick and Struggles, Parayre thinks that smart law firms would benefit by looking for places in the market that their competitors haven’t inundated—he calls them patches of Blue Ocean—and sailing toward them. Firms can choose to battle in the overcrowded space they know too well, or they can start creating new market opportunities.
Following on from our recent CMO roundtable in New York, The Legal 500 and Bernero & Press held a follow up discussion in England in July. We discussed some of the issues that came up in New York at our secret location in central London, and much more besides, with a group of experienced CMOs. Again, the names have been anonymised so there could be a (very) frank discussion.
Law firms often struggle with maintaining the type of high-performing marketing and business development group that can support demanding lawyers in a very competitive environment, while at the same time creating a rewarding career model for the professionals on the marketing and business development team. In working with law firms that are seeking to improve performance and job satisfaction for their marketing/business development group, I have developed suggestions for simple things that can be done to ensure greater success and stronger teams to support the marketing and business development functions. My advice stresses the need for the team to organize and collaborate effectively in order to add value and provide the kind of concierge service to the firm’s lawyers that the lawyers want and expect. These expectations are based on service models that the lawyers in turn must provide to firm clients. The following list is not exhaustive. The suggestions focus on some of the issues identified when I was a managing partner that, if addressed, will boost team performance and inspire confidence and teamwork in the firm. Here are some of the things that should be considered.
As I wrote in a LinkedIn blog post entitled “Law Firm Partners: Stop being arrogant and realise the talent within”, one of the issues facing law firms is a failure to empower their marketing and business development teams, or at the very least to recognise that they have skills that lawyers simply do not have.
It has been a topic that I have discussed with many CMOs across the globe, including Yolanda Cartusciello, now of Bernero & Press , who is consistently recognised as one of the leading law firm marketers of the past decade. We decided to put together a roundtable of some of the leading CMOs in the legal market, to discuss the issues facing marketing and BD in law firms.
In order to have a full and frank discussion, it was essential that this was done under the full cloak of anonymity, as I’m sure you can understand. So, on a sunny March day, we gathered together at a secret location in Manhattan – read on to find out what we discussed.