It Ain’t Brain Surgery

For years I have talked about the most sophisticated legal work being like brain surgery where clients look for the absolutely best possible person to do the work regardless of cost.  But now that I have been in the position of actually using a brain surgeon, I’ve found out that the analogy may be more […]

Nibbling Around the Edges

When children are given food they don’t like and are told, “Eat it, it’s good for you,” they have this special way of nibbling small amounts of it and making it look like they are actually eating. When law firms go about creating and implementing strategy they often use the same technique.  They nibble around […]

Texas Legal Market

We estimate the overall Texas legal market (the total paid for private practice legal services) as being approximately $17.1 billion, the third largest in the U.S. following New York ($39.8b) and California ($36.8b).  This provides statewide revenue per lawyer of $227,194 compared to the national average of $215,701.  The state has 75,087 practicing lawyers, which […]

Thinking Long Term

Coming off the “batten down the hatches” response to the recession, a common concern among law firm leaders is how to create in their organizations, and particularly among their partners, a greater long term perspective.  But, while many leaders characterize their short term perspective as a natural reaction to economic adversity and being focused on […]

Think Globally, Act Regionally

Over 20 years ago, Steven Brill, creator of the American Lawyer, predicted that among the most successful law firms in the future would be what he referred to as “Super-regionals.”  However, as the legal industry evolved over the past couple of decades, many growth oriented law firms managed to hopscotch over regionalism to become national […]

Skinny Dipping: The Anatomy of Law Firm Demise

Warren Buffet once said, “It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who’s been swimming naked.” A rough economy tends to reveal those companies and firms that have been trying to “swim naked” and are now getting caught by the receding tide. When you consider the most recent large-scale law firm collapses: Wolf […]

Post Recession Globalization

To the extent that there is anything good about an international economic meltdown, it can be credited with having forced a lot of law firms to reconsider their globalization plans.  As the recession drove red ink for the international investments of many firms, more than a few of them are looking at their international offices […]

The Bookstore Window: Dealing with a Strategic Focus

An important element of strategic planning for many law firm is the identification of specific areas of practice where the firm wants to emphasize its growth. This means that law firm leaders must find a politically acceptable way of providing increased resources to some while limiting support to others.

The New Litigation Practice in America

Over the past couple of decades, the strength of US law firms and the growth of legal markets have been measured by the size of transactional practices. From this viewpoint, litigation, at least among law firms listed in the AmLaw 100 and 200, is an important but supportive practice to the M&A and securities engines […]

Taking Advantage of a Recession: Seven Strategies for Opportunistic Law Firms

The natural reaction of most lawyers is to deal with an economic downturn in the same way they would handle a hurricane — hunker down, don’t take any unnecessary chances and try to survive until it is over. Given the risk adversity of most law firms, avoiding action may indeed be the best plan for […]

Most law firms have a limited number of options to improve their profitability. They can ask their lawyers to work harder —which in many firms is a function of having the work to do, as well as a culture that inspires and rewards hard work. Another alternative is to cut costs but, for most law […]

Local Clients, Local Work

The biggest factor in most law firms’ success is the quality of their client base.  In large measure this is because different clients have differing volumes of work, complexity of legal needs and price sensitivity.  Appropriately, therefore, many law firms’ strategic plans are built, at least in part, around improving their client base.  Unfortunately, there […]

The Low Cost Provider

A lot of law firms talk about using pricing to attract clients who don’t want to pay New York prices for top quality legal work.  But, for most firms, the Low Cost Provider strategy has not been particularly successful.  The answer may be for firms to learn from the pricing experience of businesses in the […]

Making Strategic Planning Committees Work

Law firms are unique creatures.  On the one hand, lawyers seem to hate working in teams.  Most view themselves as licensed professionals and have trouble being dependent upon anyone else.  Some feel this solo operating style is instilled by law schools where students directly compete with each.  As a result, lawyers as a profession are […]

True Practice Management

In many law firms it is politically incorrect to say that any practice area is of greater value to the firm than another.  But the truth is that there are some practices that, by the nature of their position in the marketplace and how they react with client’s businesses, deserve a greater allocation of the […]

If you have been involved in the practice of law for 20 years or more and listened to yesterday’s Sunday morning news shows, I’m sure that the talk of a bailout of banks and the creation of a resolution trust to manage and dispose of distressed real estate seemed like déjà vu.  It certainly reminded […]

Creating a Burning Platform

When law firms go about attempting the implementation of strategies that involve some aspect of change for the firm, there is frequently a lot of talk about “burning platforms.”  The concept is that people, particularly lawyers, are resistant to change.  Therefore, even the most logical and rational justifications of change don’t seem to work unless […]

Taking Advantage of Emerging Practice Areas

The economy is making a lot of firms nervous about the future of their traditional practice areas.  So, it’s not surprising that firms want to look at “emerging” practices – areas where they might be able to establish a position of strength before competitors are even aware that the practice exists.   But new niche practices […]

Defending Dominance

When a law firm becomes dominant in its marketplace, there is only one place for it to go – down.  Often, firms find that retaining their position as king of the hill is as hard as getting there was in the first place. Most firms find that the old Mel Brooks line is true – […]

Industry Focus

It is quite common at law firm retreats to have a panel of clients discussing their views on law firms.  Often, a partner in the audience will ask a panelist, “What is the most important issue to you in selecting outside counsel?”  I’m sure that the person asking the question is expecting to hear that […]