Do you believe client development is more difficult today? I do. Your clients have more choices and less time to choose. You likely have less non-billable time to devote to client development. Here are some random statistics showing why it is more challenging

  1. Number of Lawyers: In 1951, there were approximately 200,000 lawyers in the United States. That is approximately 1 lawyer for roughly every 700 people in the nation.  Today, according to the American Bar Association there are currently 1,116,967 lawyers practicing in the United States. That is approximately 1 lawyer for every 300 people, or approximately .36% of the total population.  At this rate we are not far from the day that there will be a one-to-one relationship between licensed lawyers and American citizens.
  2. Billable Hours: A 1958 ABA pamphlet suggested a quota of 1,300 hours a year for associates. Yes, you read that correctly. In 2000 many larger law firms demanded associates bill 1950 or more hours a year.
  3. Size of Law Firms: In 1960, there were only 38 law firms in the entire country with more than 50 lawyers.  By 1985 there were more than 500 firms of that size or bigger. Today, a 50-lawyer firm is considered a small firm in many cities.

Tulips standout.jpgWhat do these statistics tell us? At the very least, it is harder to stand out from the crowd. Business clients cannot distinguish the legal skills from one firm to another. But, as I have written many times, they can distinguish whether lawyers understand their industry, their company and them.

Based on that knowledge, if I was a law firm leader I would build industry based teams that cross practice groups. Lawyers in those groups would join industry associations. If my firm was blogging, I would have industry based blogs, like:

  • Financial Services Law Blog
  • Hospitality Industry Law Blog
  • Retail Law Blog
  • Construction Law Blog
  • Healthcare Law Blog
  • Energy industry Law Blog
  • Transportation Law Blog
  • Computer/Technology Industry Law blog

I could go on, but you get the idea. If your firm focuses on industries, builds industry teams and writes industry law blogs, I think you will stand out from the crowd.