There are a variety of ways of defining legal marketplaces.  Certainly there are markets for specific practices and there are markets within industries.  But the licensing of lawyers largely dictates that much of the buying of legal services occurs within geographic markets.  Accordingly, the size and growth potential of geographic markets should play a major […]

Game Changing Mergers

We have seen very few mergers in the U.S. that could be categorized as “game changers” — that is, a merger that dramatically changed the competitive landscape.  Sure, we see lots of mergers where two firms from contiguous states double their size through a merger; but, as the old horse racing saying goes, “You don’t […]

Kicking the Can

Performance problems are difficult.  Dealing with under-performing partners, associates who are not meeting the firm’s standards, or people who are “culturally challenged” is awkward, embarrassing, unprofessional and messy.  It is often easier to look the other way and ignore the problem with the hope that it will somehow go away – the law firm equivalent […]

After the Merger – Hanging Onto Your Clients

Law firm mergers are always sold to the partners of the participating firms on the basis of the new revenues that will be created through client synergies.  Unfortunately, most firms spend so much time planning the marketing of the merged firm to potential clients that they put at risk their existing client bases. When advising […]

Strategic Pricing

One of the most powerful strategies available to any professional service firm is pricing. Regardless of the service, the reputation of the provider, the sophistication of the buyer, the quality of the service or any other aspect of a firm’s position in the marketplace, price plays a significant role in a client’s decision to purchase […]

Going Global: a 10 Point Checklist for Considering a Foreign Office

Among the highest risk decisions a law firm can make is the opening of an office in another country.  But firms can mitigate some of the risk by making an informed decision laced with a healthy dose of skepticism. The explosion of U.S. firms’ overseas offices has reached the point where it is comparatively rare […]

Ugly Golf Swings and Other Merger Metaphors

As consolidation reduces the universe of available merger partners, waiting for the perfect candidate may take a long time.  There are times when a “fixer upper” – a firm without direction or that has profitability problems – may represent an appropriate opportunity for a growth oriented firm that has its act together. I fear that […]

Aligning capability and practice: Are your lawyers punching below their weight?

An increasing number of law firm leaders find themselves functioning as full-time managers. Unfortunately, in doing so, they may be getting themselves too far from the action to recognize changes in the capabilities their clients are expecting from their lawyers. Worse, managing partners may have lost an accurate assessment of their own partners’ actual capabilities. […]

The Importance of Romance

Customarily, law firm leaders approach merger discussions with the same detached objectivity that they bring to clients’ transactions.  But when it comes to convincing their partners of the value of something that represents massive change to their everyday work style, it can’t just be about numbers and synergies.  There has to be some romance. Picture […]

2011 Banner Year for Mergers

Much has been written about 2011 being a banner year for mergers including articles in the Wall Street Journal and the American Lawyer.  It is true that there were somewhere around 60 mergers involving U.S. firms last year and that represents a 54 percent increase from 2010.  But this may be much ado about relatively […]

T.J.L.U. – Sufficient Motivation for a Merger?

When a law firm leader is asked why his or her firm is considering a merger with a particular firm, the most common answer you hear is, “They’re just like us.”  It’s probably human nature to seek out kindred spirits, and certainly dealing with people who share your values and have a similar history is […]

Breaking the Wall: Six Rules to Managing The Three Million Dollar Practice and Beyond

It is relatively rare to find a major business developer in a law firm who maintains a truly large practice. Certainly there are situations where a partner is the responsible attorney for a large corporate relationship that may involve $10 or $15 million in billings. There are situations where, by virtue of a relationship with […]

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

For the past decade, law firms have taken the easy way out with personnel decisions.  To avoid making hard choices and delivering uncomfortable messages, U.S. law firms have gone on a staffing spree with non-equity partner positions.  As a result, firms find themselves massively overstaffed at the partner level.   While there are no quick fixes […]

Swimming in the Blue Ocean

Law firm leaders frequently ask, “Where is the blue ocean?”  What they really mean is, “Where are the opportunities? What practices, locations and industries are not being fully served; where could the firm gain a “first mover” advantage?”  But when faced with a rare opportunity to be a first mover, most firms balk precisely because […]

Eight Tracks and Cassettes

It’s difficult to pick up any periodical dealing with the practice of law these days without reading about some new trend that is going to revolutionize the relationship of law firms and their clients.   Whether talking about legal project management, outsourcing, alternative fees or corporate legal departments recruiting directly out of law schools, there are […]

Good Strategies Gone Bad

I used to think that there was no such thing as a bad strategy – just bad execution.  I thought that any strategy was better than no strategy and that a law firm with a plan of action couldn’t possibly be bad.  I’m pretty sure I was wrong. Here’s the problem.  A strategy is a […]

And Now it Begins…

For the past couple of years there has been a lot of speculation about the impact of the UK’s Legal Services Act (known as “the Clementi Reforms”) on private practice law firms in the U.S.  Yesterday, Jacoby & Meyers filed suit in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut challenging bar regulations prohibiting non-lawyers from owning […]

Follow the Leader

Law firm leaders often describe running a law firm as being like “herding cats” because lawyers are so fiercely independent.  Despite being accustomed to operating in a structured legal environment, for some reason lawyers seem to take pleasure in rebelling against organizational rules and procedures.   Yet, a few firms seem to be able to enforce […]

Coaching LeBron

Most law firms have great difficulty implementing change or enforcing any form of rules or discipline among their partners.  Even trying to get lawyers to get their time in and their bills out is a battle that management frequently loses.  In fact, the problem is often as much with a firm’s leadership as it is […]

What is the Optimum Size for a Law Firm?

Law firm leaders and the legal media frequently talk about the size.  But, unlike the way most businesses address size (annual revenue), law firms seem to define size as the number of lawyers practicing at a firm. Managing partners talking about growth, are typically referring to adding lawyers to reach “critical mass” and when there […]