Saturday, July 07, 2007

Law Firms to Partners: Bring in the Business or Risk De-Equitization

Law firms today want to increase their "stock price," according to Mayer Brown Chairman James Holzhauer. Quoted in a July 6, 2007 Wall Street Journal article entitled "Partnership is No Longer a Tenured Position," Mr. Holzhauer was commenting on Mayer Brown's move to fire or demote 45 partners earlier this year in an effort to increase "profits per partner." Other law firms taking similar actions include Jenner & Block LLP, and Powell Goldstein LLP, according to the article.

What does this mean for partners at AmLaw 100 or AmLaw 200 firms, where "profits per partner" is closely scrutinized? Partners must bring in profitable new business and expand existing client relationships, or risk the threat of losing an equity position and possibly their job. While "finders" are a hot commodity, partners who fall into the category of "minders and grinders" must learn new business development skills quickly to keep a constant flow of quality prospects in the pipeline.

How can a partner meet this challenge? Attorneys need to realize that marketing is a process and not an event. Business development requires a clearly defined marketing plan based firmly on a set of goals and objectives. The plan can be short and sweet, even 2-3 pages will work. The secret to success is to work the plan substantively every day. Never stop marketing!

Attorneys can learn how to create high quality leads through speaking engagements, publishing opportunities, direct mail, referral networks and more in the upcoming legal marketing book, "Courting Your Clients: The Essential Guide to Legal Marketing." Six simple steps contained in the CLIENT RainmakingTM methodology, outlined in the book, include:

1. Create a law firm or attorney marketing plan
2. Launch your plan
3. Inspect the results of your marketing plan
4. Educate yourself and your audience on industry challenges
5. Nurture your leads to turn them into clients
6. Team with your new clients for a long term relationsh

Details at Blogger and author Margaret Grisdela will supply a sample attorney marketing plan on request to

Monday, July 02, 2007

What are your Law Firm Clients Thinking?

Clients are different than customers, according to something I read recently. A client is "in the care of" someone, whereas a customer simply is someone who buys a product or service from you.

Are your clients truly in your care? Do you not only spend time wondering what their worries and industry challenges are, but take it a step further to actively solicit this information? Do you create and suggest proactive solutions to make their life easier?

There are several ways to gain valuable client feedback, including:

1. Adopt "end of matter" questionnaires, sent automatically when you finish an engagement. Ask the client if the work was done on time, on budget and to their satisfaction. What could you do better next time?

2. Conduct an annual client satisfaction survey. Assign an influential firm representative to sit down with your top accounts off the clock to find out how you rate.

3. Form a client advisory panel. Invite important clients and industry leaders to join a prestigious group that will advise your firm on matters including practice development, branding, quality of service, billing practices and reward systems.

The challenge is to act on the feedback you receive. Positive reinforcement is reassuring, but it takes a strong firm to tackle the tough issues that clients raise. If you can deal with previously intractable billing systems, problem partners or late phone calls, chances are you will start to see your client retention rates rise along with your firm's profitability.

Margaret Grisdela is author of the upcoming book "Courting Your Client: The Essential Guide to Legal Marketing."