“If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will.” Unknown
A recent BTI Consulting Group study revealed a startling finding: “87% of law firms have at least one major client relationship at risk. Yet few law firms are aware of their vulnerability – and even fewer are doing anything to change the landscape.” Legal Trends, Most Law Firms Have At Least One Major Client at Risk, by Marcia Borgal Shunk, Principal at BTI Consulting Group, April 9, 2009.
If you are a glass is half full sort of person you would immediately look at this and think, “Wow, what a great opportunity to pick up some new clients!” And that observation would be correct. If you are seeking to grow your business, this statistic illustrates an encouraging opportunity to win over some new business. Your next step should be to develop a strategy of how you are going to capitalize on that fluidity. But in developing that strategy, consider the glass is half empty sort of person who is worried about which client in their portfolio is on a possible exit. To figure out the best way to win clients from others, you should start with getting a clear understanding of why the clients would consider leaving. Figure it out, then offer what’s missing. And even better, make sure your own clients are getting what’s missing as well.
The focus of the study was not on how to win new clients from others, it was on what it takes to retain them. Obviously, winning clients while simultaneously losing others is not going to grow revenues. The study indicates that using aggressive client surveying to uncover client satisfaction is critical to gaining client loyalty and to becoming one of those rare 13% of the firms not at risk. I agree, but I also suggest that after you do your surveying not only should you use the information to keep your current client’s happy; you should use the information to design your next marketing campaign. You see? The glass is half full!
Samira Mery Lineberger, Esq.
“Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles; it empties today of its strengths.” Unknown
With the economy at its lowest point in decades, the legal industry is taking its share of the brunt. More and more firms are downsizing, some in drastic measures and still law schools are turning out new graduates in record numbers. So what’s a lawyer to do? Start an emergency fund and hunker down until things get better? That’s certainly an option. It’s all in how you look at it.
Economic turmoil is not pleasant, but with turmoil there is always opportunity, and the opportunity for small to mid-size firms to build their commercial business is better than ever. Companies are tightening their belts, looking for better, more affordable legal services. A recent study by BTI Consulting, a leader in legal industry research, suggests that now is the time for small to mid-size firms to ramp up their marketing efforts to go after big company legal business. According to BTI research, companies are moving away from big firm services in favor of the more affordable and flexible services offered by small to mid-size firms. In fact, the nation’s top 100 revenue generating law firms went from servicing 64% of the 550 large companies surveyed in 2007, to only 36% in 2008. The next 100 firms picked up some of the top 100 losses moving from 13% of the business in 2007 to 26% in 2008. But big gains in market share also went to those firms under the top 200, who went from 26% in 2007 to 38% in 2008. Why the shift? More and more companies are looking at innovative ways to stretch their legal dollars. Smaller firms not saddled by big associate salaries, heavy personnel infrastructures, and considerable overhead have the flexibility to offer more innovative billing practices, staffing and communication.
So what does this mean? There has never been a better chance for small to mid-size firms to break the glass ceiling and pick up some of that premium legal work. Not only does the recent economic crisis encourage large companies to look for cheaper alternatives now, it will also go a long way to breaking the pattern of many executives who feel compelled to go with the big name firms, if only to cover themselves should their hiring decision be questioned. Companies are no longer expected to stick with the big boys, and in fact, there is a shift in the mood toward greater appreciation of executives who are innovative and willing to make smarter legal service choices.
What should you do to capitalize on this opportunity? BTI research suggests that expensive marketing campaigns are not necessary. Turns out that the combination of traditional and cyber networking, expert positioning through association activity, speaking engagements and white paper publication can get you there… i.e. good old fashioned elbow grease. How’s that for a silver lining??
Samira Mery Lineberger, Esq.
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
In my recent position as General Counsel for a technology company, I realized my interest and enjoyment in being actively involved in the business world was something that would stay with me for the rest of my professional life. Now, back in a more traditional law practice, I decided to take what I loved about the practice of law and merge it with what I loved about business to create a new venture that would continue to challenge and inspire me. This blog is intended to be a vessel for discussing and distributing a variety of topics affecting the legal world, but with a focus on the business of law firms and my favorite business topic, marketing and business development. Hopefully, through the transfer and sharing of ideas on these issues, this endeavor will energize and inspire a more fruitful future the legal industry and the client’s it serves.