What sets you apart from your competition? How well are you telling your story? Are you prepared for the inevitable crisis? Every firm needs answers to these questions.
Brand and Message Assessments: You have a reputation, but it may not be the one you believe you have—or the one you want. We will help you understand how your reputation developed, review its strengths and weaknesses, and design strategies to raise and improve your profile.
- Most firms already describe who they are and what they do. Too often those messages serve only to add more noise to the market. We will help determine how well aligned your messages are with your strengths and goals, and what might restrain or distort them.
- Law firms need to differentiate themselves. Working with your internal teams, we will determine what you stand for and then develop strategies to help you stand out.
Defending Your Brand: We have had extensive experience with crisis management, from inside and outside firms. Almost always these events start as unwelcome surprises: the bolting practice group; the indicted partner; the angry and litigious client. You can’t anticipate the particular problem but you can be ready with a thoughtful plan. We will help you develop that plan, one that suits your firm’s culture, and prepare your lawyers and administrators to handle a crisis as it develops.
Marketing Department Review and Reinvention: “Marketing” is defined very differently by different firms. Rather than simply comparing your marketing department to other firms that seem similar, we will work with you to define your expectations for marketing at your firm.
- We will benchmark your current marketing team, processes, and technology to ensure that they are aligned with the goals and needs of the firm. We will measure the difference, not between your marketing department and other firms’ departments, but rather between your function and what your lawyers need. We will make recommendations for improvements, and we will stay on to help implement the necessary changes.
- We can assist your project managers choose technological solutions that range from automated experience databases, pitch assembly programs, CRM and other business development activity tracking systems to new websites and social media platforms.
- We can also provide training to your marketing team in every facet of marketing and business development, and will develop processes to improve the efficiency of marketing support at your firm.
Successful strategy begins with rigorous targeted analysis and ends with achievable rational goals. We believe that you need a clear-eyed view of where you stand before you can decide where you’re headed. We also believe that a strategic plan is only as good as its execution. We’ve designed strategic plans for firms, practice and industry groups, client teams, and individual partners. For each, our goal has been to develop plans to sustain and expand profitability. In broad outline, here’s our view of the process:
- We begin with research. We assess where your firm, practice group, or individual practice stands in the market. We base our judgments on your data—this is no time to rely on urban legends—and on broader market trends. Most important, we work with you to understand the buying habits and future needs of your clients.
- Then we start planning. On the basis of the assessment, we work with your leadership to define objectives and develop plans that take into account your unique set of strengths and challenges. When appropriate we lead war-gaming and similar analytical exercises to help you find the best solution for your firm.
- Planning does not occur in a vacuum. We will develop an approach to help you win the support of key partners and groups for the successful adoption of the plan.
- Planning is not an end in itself. Once we’ve helped you develop a plan, we can continue to advise and assist with the implementation, and benchmark your progress at regular intervals. We will work with all facets of the organization including practice and industry groups, client teams, and administrative support teams, such as marketing, pricing, and practice management, to help you meet your strategic goals.
COMPENSATION AND GOVERNANCE PLANS
Your structure matters. In our experience, changing times have forced firms to substantially change their governance and compensation systems. These are always difficult matters, but when done sensitively, the firm can emerge healthier, both financially and culturally.
Compensation: Partner compensation is an important driver of law firm strategy and financial success. The structure and process of a firm’s partner compensation system should promote stability, enhance collaboration and client development, and give the partners a sense that their efforts and contributions are being fairly measured and rewarded. In short, the best compensation systems involve predictable consequences for behaviors that either advance or hinder a firm’s strategic objectives.
- We aim to assist in developing a system that is customized to fit a firm’s culture and focus behaviors on advancing its key objectives. Let’s be very clear: This is a risky endeavor. Changing partner compensation systems can ruin a partnership, but it can also save it. These projects are exercises in building consensus and winning approval for the future. We know, because one of us (Jim Pagliaro) has led such efforts from the inside. With sensitivity to your partners and hard-won discipline, we can help you build a better way.
Governance: While compensation systems create the blueprint for business development and client expansion-related behavior, day-to-day governance at the firm, practice, and individual level shape the culture of a firm. We have seen firms with sound compensation systems over or under-manage their firms and partners in ways that are diametrically opposed to the culture they espouse.
- We can help identify structural governance behaviors that are hampering a firm’s development goals and can help implement governance and administrative programs to more properly manage your most important asset – your partnership.
Your success starts with your firm’s talent. You can make them great lawyers. We can help them improve their business generating skills. We can help you integrate them into your firm. We can help enlist marketers and administrative assistants into business development activity.
Business Development Training and Coaching: Speaking to lawyers about business development is not nearly as effective as showing them BD techniques and then working with them as they practice what may not come naturally. Every training and coaching session we run is built around a practice exercise.
- We have worked with lawyers at virtually every level of experience: senior partners, new partners, and senior and new associates. Not everyone can become a world-class rainmaker. But every lawyer can learn to do some sort of effective business development. And in this difficult market, they need to. We can help.
- We have provided business development training and coaching on networking, profile enhancement, managing client interactions, and effective pitching to hundreds of lawyers at all levels. If you prefer, we can develop a program that is delivered by your usual trainer or coach. We work with you to develop case studies specific to your firm, and we ask each lawyer to participate in the exercises.
BD for marketers and administrative assistants: The reality is that outside training and coaching can be very helpful, but cannot replace good internal daily marketing guidance on pitches and business development. We’ve developed “train the trainer” sessions for marketers so that they can effectively prep lawyers for pitches and run rehearsals without the help of an outside trainer.
- We know from experience that an excellent administrative assistant can increase a lawyer’s efficiency and productivity. We’ve developed marketing support training for administrative assistants on pitch, networking, and profile-building support. We provide a context for the business development work so that assistants feel invested and committed to the firm’s success.
Lateral Partner Integration:
During our careers we have helped hundreds of lateral partners succeed at their new firms. We have worked with groups and individuals. We have built programs customized to the cultural and business needs of both the arriving partners and their receiving firms.
Partners need support when they’ve moved to a new firm. They need a plan. And they need to know what success looks like. We provide guidance for all three aspects of their transition. When asked we can do this on a one-off basis. We prefer to build a lasting system that our clients can use after we’ve left the building.
ALL ABOUT CLIENTS
Whether you are an established global firm reaching for the next level or an emerging practice in search of support along the way, we can help. We are committed to understanding our clients’ unique needs and concerns and will work with you to develop tailored solutions.
Client Interviews: We will talk to your clients to gauge their satisfaction with your lawyers, your firm, and your rivals. We will also talk with them about their plans, their pain points, and their unmet needs. We provide a custom approach, one designed to meet your needs. This is, to use the current cliché, a high-touch service. We are willing to talk to all your clients. But we think it wiser to use us to focus on your key existing or potential relationships. Part of this effort is designed to gather feedback on your performance. If properly executed, these conversations will help you understand where your clients are headed, how their legal departments operate, and where you can add value to their efforts.
Client Teams: We know that it’s difficult to build and sustain an effective client team program. Success has frequently seemed too dependent on the assignment of individual lawyers blessed with team- and relationship-building skills to these tasks. In our view, this work is too important to be left to chance. We will work with your partners, practice group leaders, and business development staff to build programs based on best practices. We will coach individual lawyers on client team leadership skills. We will help you set goals and train your team to meet them, and then measure their progress. We believe in luck, especially when it’s the result of careful preparation.
Client Experience-Training: We were one of the first legal industry consultancies to translate the corporate customer-experience methodology into one that is customized for law firms and legal departments. Yolanda Cartusciello is certified in client experience techniques such as client journey mapping, and we offer comprehensive training at the partner, associate and staff level that helps your organization to better understand the client’s needs and desires and better able to meet those needs. We offer follow-up programs and consulting to address issues uncovered in the program. We also offer pre-program client interviews and research to ensure the program is customized for your firm and the issues your clients face.
Client Relationship Enhancement: The goal of the extensive client interviews we conduct is to understand your clients and the broader market better, and then build competitive advantage based on that knowledge. To repeat: We think feedback is important but it is just a first step toward broadening and deepening your relationships. We can give you a report card, but we’d prefer to work with you to build an action plan that is aimed at better serving your clients and expanding your business.
Pricing and Project Management: Pricing seems to have become an industry within law firms lately. We can help you take a realistic approach to pricing. We will assess your current pricing and project management capabilities, and help you build them if they don’t exist. We will examine your relationships with client procurement teams and make recommendations for improvements. We will help you develop technology to support your project management efforts, and we will train your marketing and pricing teams together to ensure that they are working collaboratively to provide the best possible outcomes on RFP and other proposals. We can also help your partners and finance teams master your own financial data on matters, so that you can price more effectively. Most importantly, we can advise your partners on pricing negotiation techniques, and help them refocus their pricing conversations with clients on value rather than costs.
RETREATS AND SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
We are experienced speakers, facilitators, and teachers. We can also entertain. We are available to speak on our areas of expertise to your partners, practice groups, and/or administrative teams. We’ve given keynotes, and we’ve led half-day training sessions and full-day workshops. We give our audiences ideas to think about, constructive suggestions on which they can build, and a reasonably good time.
ONE CAVEAT: WHAT WE DON’T DO
While we do many things very well, we don’t do everything. But we have a close network of colleagues who can skillfully meet your needs if they are outside our competencies or ability to provide assistance. When we refer work elsewhere, we will keep in touch with you and the project to make sure that the work is performed well and at a reasonable cost.