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.”
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.
Recommending that law firms seek client feedback has become so commonplace and widespread in the industry that the advice is almost clichéd. That being said, it continues to surprise me that many law firms do not take advantage of the opportunity to seek routine, reliable input from the consumers of their services. In my experience as a law firm leader and consultant, asking clients to provide candid comments about the services that a law firm provides can be essential to developing successful strategies as well as deepening relationships. In almost every other service industry where expensive, expert services are provided, there is a premium placed on the consumer’s views about the state of the relationship and the value received for the money spent.
Much has been written recently about the need for law firms to integrate laterals more effectively. One need only search “law firm lateral integration” to find myriad resources providing tips for more successful integration, often accompanied by the cautionary tales of serial laterals and disastrous failed integrations. It is suggested that if only firms became more swift, efficient, disciplined, and robust at setting up the meetings, providing a mentor/buddy, developing the talking points, and sticking to a timeline, the lateral would be assimilated into the collective quickly, successfully, and without issue.
There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review that ought to be required reading for the leaders and owners of the world’s leading law firms. Called Knowing When to Reinvent, the essay describes what I think of as the Aetna Corporate Health Test, one that managing partners might start taking each year along with an annual physical.