The Tall Poppy Syndrome and Origination Credit

Law firms talk a good game about sophisticated management but often, just when a firm reaches the verge of running like a business, its culture gets in the way.  Case in point is business origination: should it be measured, how should it be measured and what do we do with the data? Almost 25% of […]

  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 institutional relationship that may involve $10 or $15 million in billings or where, by virtue of a relationship with senior […]

The Bookstore Window: Dealing with a Strategic Focus

An important element of strategic planning for many law firms is the identification of specific areas of practice where the firm wants to emphasize its growth.  Whether this emphasis involves lateral recruiting or targeted marketing support, intensifying focus on one practice area, office or industry group means removing focus from others.  This means that law […]

The Shark Tank Metric

One of the most common questions I get from Managing Partners and COO’s is, “How much should our firm be spending on marketing?”  Most firms find it hard to wrap their arms around the marketing budget, little less effectively manage it.  Now, the same could probably also be said about the technology budget but at […]

Seven Reasons Why Industry Groups Fail

Many law firms have created an industry group structure that failed miserably.  Not surprisingly the failure is not in the concept but in its execution. What lawyers view as legal problems, clients see as business problems that may have a legal solution.  As a result, from a client perspective, it makes more sense to shop […]

Brand Sharing

As the purchase of legal services by major corporations, particularly on a global basis, becomes increasingly institutionalized, brands become more competitively important.  But the time and investment required to build a brand is beyond the capability of some large firms.  For many of those firms that want to play on a national or international stage, […]

Rethinking Document Mills

Today’s Wall Street Journal details the halting of mortgage foreclosures due, at least in part, to possible improper handling of the supporting legal documents by the mortgagers’ law firms.  This could, at least in the short term, be very good news for the real estate and corporate transactional departments of mid-sized law firms. The firms […]

The Younger Generation

A great deal has been written about why associates, and even young partners, have a different set of aspirations and values than previous generations.  It is further suggested that law firms must adapt themselves to these generational shifts if they want to successfully recruit and retain lawyers and staff. But suppose that the issues we […]

Rigorous, Not Ruthless

From time to time I call managing partners that I know – some are clients, some are just acquaintances.  Typically I ask them how things are going.  Those who are most enthusiastically happy seems to have a common response: “We finally did something about our underproductive partners.” Indeed, if there was a theme that characterized […]

Looking Tall by Standing Next to Short People

For some law firms the decision to take action on the problem of underproductive partners is less difficult than figuring out exactly which partners fall into the category of underproductive.  The problem is that even though law firm leaders know underproductive partners when they see them, they are insecure in taking action without some more […]

Managing to the Highest Common Denominator

It makes sense that law firms would design their services, pricing and support services around the needs of their largest and most profitable clients.  Unfortunately, most law firms don’t. In almost every firm, 20 percent of the clients make up 80 percent or more of the revenues and profits.  In some firms it is as […]

Firing Clients

As law firms attempt to drive greater profitability, it is common for partners to talk about firing unprofitable clients. But few firms have the ability to distinguish the comparative profitability of clients and even fewer have the discipline to take action. The truth is that a law firm’s client base goes a long way to […]

Building Individual Brands

I was participating in a law firm marketing conference in Sydney, Australia recently.  I heard speaker after speaker emphasize the importance of firms creating a strong brand so that clients have a greater association with the law firm than any individual lawyer.  Now, isn’t that the dumbest thing you ever heard? This goes back to […]