Hedging Your Bet: Dealing with the Risks of Dominance

Among lessons learned by law firms from the recession is the danger of having too much of their revenue dependent upon a few dominant practice areas.  Firms with large transactional, real estate, environmental, bankruptcy and other cyclical practices find that factors beyond their control can cause peaks and valleys in the demand for their services.  […]

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 […]

There has been a shift of legal practice among many larger law firms over the past two decades.  The change does not involve client assertiveness, pricing or any of the usual topics the media typically cites as representing sea changes in the legal profession.  Instead, it is centered on the role of litigation in driving […]

Happy Meals: Growth Through Small Mergers

A major objective of many law firms’ strategic plans is to grow specific practice areas or office locations through small mergers.  Unfortunately such small “acquisitions” often include practices that the larger firm doesn’t want.  But partners in the targeted practice frequently don’t want to be “cherry picked” and demand that the merger include everyone.  An […]

Competing in the Global Legal Market

Twenty years ago, the term “Globalization” was a seminar topic – today international capability is viewed by many as inherent to the practice of business law; the natural offshoot of law firms need to serve the growth of their global business clients.  But the fact that a large number of law firms have substantial investments […]

Profit Boosting Band-aids for Troubled Firms

A great deal is being written about income disparity between the highest paid corporate executives and “middle class” workers.  Similarly, there is a growing bifurcation among larger law firms.  Firms in capital market cities are generating profits that average in the seven figures per equity partner.  At the same time the vast majority of regional […]

Executive Committee Size

A lot of law firms believe that before they can effectively engage in strategic planning they must clean up all their internal problems.  The thought is that they must establish a solid foundation in the present before they can even consider looking toward the future.  Since many internal issues are virtually irresolvable, I suspect that, […]

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, […]

Dancing With Elephants: Acquiring Smaller Law Firms

Mergers continue to be a front burner topic for virtually every law firm.  While much of the publicity that helps fuel that interest focuses on the “mega mergers” between international giants, in truth, the vast majority of mergers involve relatively small firms.   In fact, of the 25 U.S. mergers that have taken place so far […]

Five Keys to a Successful Lateral Hiring Strategy

Many law firms’ strategies to increase revenues and strengthen practice areas are dependent upon a program of laterals.  For some firms, the strategy is incredibly successful in its ability to provide work for under-performing lawyers and rapidly increase capability in targeted practice areas.  Unfortunately, for a large number of law firms, the lateral hiring strategy […]

Cubs vs. Yankees: Why Lateral Hiring for Most Law Firms Makes Sense

It is amazing that the legal media continues to actively discuss whether lateral hiring is a good idea.  The gist of the argument appears to be that law firms seeking to expand their revenue base or enter a new practice area have no real alternative but to actively seek lawyers with portable business to join […]

As one result of the cost-cutting that law firms pursued in response to the recession, many firms have filled a number of their managerial and administrative functions with partners discharging those functions on either a part- or full-time basis. If nothing else, it raises some interesting compensation issues for the equity partners who now serve […]

Metrics That Matter: Revenue Per Lawyer Billable Hour

As law firms respond to demands to make the delivery of their services more efficient, the entire scope of how we view and measure the economics of legal practice is changing.  As we change, I believe that one of the most valuable metrics for law firm managers is becoming Revenue Per Lawyer Billable Hour. The […]

Tolstoy was right

Some law firms are consistently less successful than their peers.  In any industry, success is typically more a comparison with peers than an objective standard.  Of course, there are all sorts of definitions of success and one would assume that the comparisons would be with the most successful firms fitting their definition.  But, we consistently […]

Minding the Gap

Dominance of a marketplace is the most valuable strategic position a law firm can hold.  But the ongoing recession has been corrosive to the competitive situation of many of the most dominant firms in their key markets.  Achieving a dominant position is difficult but it turns out that maintaining dominance may be even tougher. Dominance […]

A Really Great Retreat: Five tips for staging a killer law firm partner retreat.

A lawyer recently said to me, “If I found out that I only had two days left to live, I’d want to spend it at my law firm’s partner retreat.  It’s always the longest 48 hours of my life.” Unfortunately law firms spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on retreats that many partners find to […]

The Five Questions: Creating a Vision for Your Firm

As law firms begin a strategic planning process they often seem to get fixated on creating mission and vision statements.  Now, having a clear vision of what the firm is attempting to become is essential to creating a strategy, but it is easy to devote so much attention to the vision that the planning committee […]

Metrics that Matter

When the media looks at law firms their focus invariably seems to go to three statistics – gross revenues, lawyer headcount and profit per equity partner.  While total revenue and the number of professionals give some indication of the relative size of a firm, as statistics they are not very good management tools.  Profit per […]

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 […]