We know from our combined experience within law firms, and as external observers of the profession, that each firm is on a unique journey, the path of which is affected as much by a firm’s culture as the external marketplace. We take the time to understand your culture and constraints in order to help you make informed decisions and develop approaches and programs that are realistic, actionable and impactful. Whether you are an established global firm reaching for the next level or an emerging practice in search of support along the way, we can help.
Strategic Planning: We have helped firms develop strategies for sustained profitability and expansion. We will work with your senior management to define objectives and develop plans that take into account the firm’s unique set of strengths and challenges. We can design and facilitate war-gaming and similar analytical exercises to help you find the most appropriate solution for your firm. We will develop an approach to help you win the support of key partners and practices for the successful adoption of the plan. And, we will work with all facets of the organization including practice and industry groups, client teams, and administrative support teams, such as marketing, pricing and practice management, to help you meet your strategic goals. Once we’ve helped you develop a plan, we can continue to advise and assist with the implementation, and benchmark your progress at regular intervals.
Industry and Practice Groups: We will work with your industry and practice groups to develop a value proposition and a focused execution plan that will create competitive advantage, increase profitability and, most importantly, delight clients. We will start with our Practice Analysis process, which will assess where your groups stand in the external and internal markets in which they operate. Then we will develop a business plan. And we will stay with you through the implementation process to help ensure that your objectives are achieved.
Client Relationships: We will talk to your clients to gauge their satisfaction with your lawyers, your firm, and your rivals. We will also talk with them about their plans, their pain points, and their unmet needs. We provide a custom approach, one designed to meet your needs. This is, to use the current cliché, a high-touch service. We are willing to talk to all your clients. But we think it wiser to use us to focus on your key existing or potential relationships. Part of this effort is designed to gather feedback on your performance. If properly executed, these conversations will help you understand where your clients are headed, how their legal departments operate, and where you can add value to their efforts. The goal is to understand your clients and the broader market better, and then build competitive advantage based on that knowledge. To repeat: We think feedback is important but it is just a first step toward broadening and deepening your relationships. We can give you a report card, but we’d prefer to work with you to build an action plan that is aimed at better serving your clients and expanding your business.
Client Teams: We know that it’s difficult to build and sustain an effective client team program. Success has frequently seemed too dependent on the assignment of individual lawyers blessed with team- and relationship-building skills to these tasks. In our view, this work is too important to be left to chance. We will work with your partners, practice group leaders, and business development staff to build programs based on best practices. We will coach individual lawyers on client team leadership skills. We will help you set goals and train your team to meet them, and then measure their progress. We believe in luck, especially when it’s the result of careful preparation.
Brand and Message Assessments: We will help you understand where you stand in the market. You have a reputation, but it may not be the one you believe you have—or the one you want. We will help you understand how your reputation developed, its strengths and weaknesses, and strategies for improvement. Most firms already attempt to describe who they are and what they do. Too often those messages are delivered in a scattershot manner that misses your business targets and serves only to add more noise in the market. Working with your business development, marketing, and communications teams, we can help you reduce the wasted effort. We will help determine how well aligned your messages are with your overall goals and what impediments, if any, restrain or distort them.
Crisis Preparedness and Training: We have had extensive experience with crisis management from within (Bernero and Cartusciello) and from the outside (Press). Firms and departments that fare the best during these challenging episodes tend to operate from a plan and a solid cultural footing. We are prepared to help you develop the former and examine the latter. We offer seminars for your lawyers and administrators, as well as full-blown assessments and crisis planning for your team.
Partner Compensation Systems: Partner compensation can be an important driver of law firm strategy and financial success. The structure and process of a firm’s partner compensation system should promote stability, enhance collaboration and client development, and give the partners a sense that their efforts and contributions are being fairly measured and rewarded. In short, the best compensation systems involve predictable consequences for behaviors that either advance or hinder a firm’s strategic objectives. Our advice is based on long-term insights into the market and experience in assessing the consequences that attend shifts in a firm’s compensation system. We aim to assist in developing a system that is customized to fit a firm’s culture and focus behaviors on advancing its key objectives. Let’s be very clear: This is a risky endeavor. Changing partner compensation systems can save—or ruin—a partnership. These projects are exercises in building consensus and winning approval for the future. We know, because one of us (Jim Pagliaro) has led such efforts from the inside. With sensitivity to your partners and hard-won discipline, we can help you build a better way.
Pricing and Project Management: Pricing seems to have become an industry within the law firm industry lately. We can help you take a realistic approach to pricing. We will assess your current pricing and project management capabilities, and help you build them if they don’t exist. We will examine your relationships with client procurement teams and make recommendations for improvements. We will help you develop technology to support your project management efforts, and we will train your marketing and pricing teams together to ensure that they are working collaboratively to provide the best possible outcomes on RFP and other proposals. We can also help your partners and finance teams master your own financial data on matters, so that you can price more effectively. Most importantly, we can advise your partners on pricing negotiation techniques, and help them refocus their pricing conversations with clients on value rather than costs.
Business Development Training and Coaching: There are three groups in a firm who can benefit from BD training: lawyers, marketers, and administrative assistants. We have experience tailoring programs for each audience.
- Speaking to lawyers about business development is not nearly as effective as making them practice skills that may not come naturally. Therefore, every training and coaching session we run is built around a practice exercise. We work with you to develop case studies specific to your firm, and we ask each lawyer to participate in the exercises. We have provided business development training and coaching on networking, profile enhancement, managing client interactions, and effective pitching to hundreds of lawyers at all levels. If you prefer, we can develop a program that is delivered by your usual trainer or coach.
- The reality is that outside training and coaching can be very helpful, but cannot replace good internal daily marketing guidance on pitches and business development. We’ve developed “train the trainer” sessions for marketers so that they can effectively prep lawyers for pitches and run rehearsals without the help of an outside trainer.
- We know from experience that an excellent administrative assistant can increase a lawyer’s efficiency and productivity. We’ve developed marketing support training for administrative assistants on pitch, networking, and profile-building support. We can customize the training to incorporate your firm’s approach. We also make certain that assistants feel, rightly, invested in their lawyer’s business development success, by providing a context for the business development work that they are asked to undertake.
Marketing Assessments: “Marketing” is defined very differently by different firms. Rather than simply comparing your marketing department to other firms that seem similar, we will work with you to define your expectations for marketing at your firm. We will then benchmark your current marketing team, processes and technology to ensure that they are aligned with the goals and needs of the firm. We will make recommendations for improvements, and we will stay on to help implement the necessary changes. We can assist your project managers in implementing technological solutions ranging from automated experience databases, pitch assembly programs, CRM and business development activity tracking systems to new websites and social media platforms. We will work with you to manage outside vendors and to develop the appropriate training and protocols for your team. We can also provide training to your marketing team in every facet of marketing and business development, and will develop processes to improve the efficiency of marketing support at your firm.
Retreat & Other Meeting Appearances: We are experienced speakers, facilitators, and teachers. We can also entertain. We are available to speak on our areas of expertise to your partners, practice groups, and/or administrative teams. We’ve given keynotes, and we’ve led half-day training sessions and full-day workshops. We give our audiences ideas to think about, constructive suggestions on which they can build, and a reasonably good time.
While we do many things very well, we don’t do everything. But we have a close network of colleagues who can skillfully meet your needs if they are outside our competencies or ability to provide assistance. When we refer work elsewhere, we will keep in touch with you and the project to make sure the work is performed well and at a reasonable cost.
The Red Team Powered by Bernero & Press: No firm can always have on hand the full panoply of resources and capabilities required to win business and build their brand. The Red Team, led by Wendy Bernero and Yolanda Cartusciello, is a group of high-caliber legal marketing professionals available on a project basis, hand-selected and trained to meet your needs. We have specialists in public relations, business development, knowledge management, pitches and proposals, thought leadership and marketing technology. The Red Team fills the critical gaps, providing turnkey solutions to your toughest client development and marketing challenges. Our high-caliber professionals join your team and deliver measurable, guaranteed results for a fixed fee without adding headcount.