In the book, The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick), Seth Godin begins with:

Being best in the world is seriously underrated.

He is right and his statement applies to lawyers and law firms. I have always argued that in the context of law practice it does not literally mean “best in the world.”

What does it mean? First, it is being perceived as the best by your clients and potential clients. You can not become the best until you clearly understand their perceptions, and they know you understand them. It is their world, not yours. Being the best also means clients have compared you to other lawyers  and firms they have used or met.

I argue the economy has changed how clients define: “best in their world.” A recent Wall Street Journal blog: Smaller Law Firms Grab Big Slice of Corporate Legal Work supports my argument. The subheading was: Midsize Firms Nearly Double Share of Big-Ticket Litigation, New Analysis Says. In a recent AdvanceLaw survey of General Counsel:

Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said they would be less likely to use a “pedigreed” firm for high-stakes matters if they could save 30% of the total bill by hiring a good lawyer from a less-prestigious firm.

Cost isn’t the only part of the equation. Nearly 60% of the general counsel polled by AdvanceLaw said lawyers at the most elite law firms were less attentive to their concerns than those at other firms.

In the coming month I will be facilitating a strategic planning session for a practice group of a mid-sized firm. This firm is one that recognizes their opportunity in the “new reality” era.

Is your firm one of those that has an opportunity to attract matters that used to go to the largest, most elite, most expensive law firms? If so, have you created a strategy and plan to take advantage of your new opportunity?