I saw an article recently that caught my eye: The Imminent Capitulation Of Many Big Firms. Mark Herrmann writes:

So the world seems to agree: The super-rich firms will become even more superbly rich, and the merely rich firms will lose ground. Where does that leave many big firms?

In a world of hurt.

Both the super-rich firms and the merely rich firms live in a different world than most of you find yourself. I never practiced law in a firm with $1 million profits-per-partner, much less one with $3 million.

If many big law firms do in fact capitulate, I would think there will be more opportunities for the less rich law firms. How can you take advantage of them?

The answer to that question depends on many variables, but there are points that you should consider:

  1. Clients hire lawyers, not law firms. Even when clients say they are hiring a law firm, they really choose the firm because of the people in the firm.
  2. Even though it is fun to get a new client, it costs at least fives time more to get a new client than to keep an existing client happy. When I use the word cost, I am including the time commitment.
  3. Solicit feedback from your clients. Ask: “How can I serve you better?”
  4. Search for ways to save your clients money. For example, what could they be doing in-house that would save money?
  5. At least 60% of the legal work available is based in large part on relationships. I believe 10% of legal work is bet the company and whoever is perceived to be the best will be hired. I believe 30% is commodity work that goes to whomever is willing to do it most cheaply. That leaves 60%. Go after that work.
  6.  Everything else being equal, clients want to work with lawyers they like and trust. Work on building rapport, trust and friendship with your clients.
  7. Most clients do not read unsolicited alerts from law firms and in fact, they resent getting them. So, email blasts of client alerts may even be hurting the firms sending them. Sending a personal note to a targeted market explaining specifically how the client can benefit from reading the alert is way more effective.
  8. Reach out to client/client representatives who clearly do not need your services now. This demonstrates you value more than just their business.
  9. If you are short of work, this is the best time to build your profile by writing and speaking. Pick topics that address client and potential client problems, opportunities and changes. If you are presenting to businessmen and women give a practical presentation with ideas they can implement.
  10.  If your budget has been cutback, conduct Webinar sessions. While, presenting in person is preferable, Webinars are inexpensive and can potentially reach a larger audience.
  11. Offer to do something at no charge for your clients and their industry associations as a way of adding value. You have to “give” to “get.”
  12. Do something no matter how small each and every day. It is easy to get into a funk over what is going on with the economy. By doing something to build your profile or relationships you will feel more in control of your destiny.
  13. Engage your clients in something that has nothing to do with law, but something they value (e.g. work on a charitable event with your client.)
  14. If you haven’t already done so, set up Google Alerts, or some other program, for your clients and their industry so you can keep up with what is going on in their world.
  15. Go to events even when you would prefer not to go. It is important to get away from your computer and be “out there.”
  16. Be patient and persistent. Most lawyers give up when they do not have immediate success from their efforts.