Thursday, June 26, 2008

Domain Names to Expand: *.law anyone?

Top-level Internet domain name options (like *.com) will be greatly expanded under a proposal from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the international organization that regulates domain names.

A new top level domain will cost between $100,000 and $500,000, according to a report in today's Wall Street Journal.

If the pending proposal is approved, applications for new domain name extensions will be taken beginning in April 2009. It is unclear if the new extensions are required to be public.

Think of the possible applications in the legal field: *.law, *.legal, *.ip, *.pi, *.court, *.dui, *.trial, etc.

Legal marketers, on your mark! Get ready!

Are Your Law Firm Clients at Risk?

Yesterday we talked about the results of a recent Altman Weil study, which found that an increasing number of in-house General Counsel recently fired an outside law firm or plan to fire an outside law firm.

Do you know if your valuable law firm accounts are at risk?

Fortunately, there are some signs of trouble when an account is in jeopardy. Whether you choose to take action is up to you. Here are five sure signs of revenue risk.

1. Your relationship with an important account is concentrated in the hands of one partner. What if that partner leaves the firm, is tied up on a major trial for another account, or becomes ill?

2. Your client relationship involves many attorneys within your firm, but just one or two key contacts on the client side. The same questions apply. What if your contact gets a great job offer and jumps ship? Chances are that your contact's replacement may bring their own (and different) law firm relationships to the job.

3. Consolidation or retrenchment is gripping your client's industry. Think airlines or automotive. As an industry shrinks, your client firms may pull back at best or disappear at worst.

4. Mergers or acquisitions may keep your client afloat, but not with you. Countrywide or Bear Stearns are prime examples.

5. New management takes the helm of an important account. Your client contacts remain strong, but you never know when the next corporate reorg is around the corner. Incoming leaders like to bring in their own team. Can your law firm survive?

What would happen if you lost a major account? It makes you stop and think, which is a positive step.

A continuing focus on new business development will build a steady pipeline of prospects, helping to protect your law firm from the blow of a major account loss.

One of the most important roles you can play as a Managing Partner or Practice Group Chair is to be alert to "at risk" accounts. A few proactive steps, including staff business development training, can protect your firm from reversals of your hard-fought success.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Law Firms: Beware of Shrinking Client Budgets

A sharp focus on managing the cost of outside legal services is a top priority for the majority of chief legal officers at firms as large as $2-$10 billion in revenue, according to Altman Weil survey results reported by The Recorder on

Half of the survey respondents have fired or are considering firing some of their outside counsel, according to the survey, up significantly from only one-third of respondents last year.

Hiring more in-house attorneys over the next 12-18 months is a commonly identified way that survey respondents intend to rein in the cost of outside counsel. With billable hourly rates at some top AmLaw 100 law firms now exceeding the $1,000 per hour barrier for in-demand attorneys, corporate America is looking for ways to break legal work down into categories that can be aligned with pricing and value.

This cost cutting initiative reflects the economic distress felt by consumers and businesses alike as gas prices climb, housing values plummet, food costs rise and the Fed contends with managing turbulent financial markets.

Rather than ignoring these market-driven stop signs, law firms should look proactively at how they can partner with corporate clients to help manage costs and expectations.

Yes, reducing billable hourly rates or offering alternative billing arrangements can be painful in the short run for law firms. But losing an entire account because you are either out of touch with the client from an account management perspective or slow to react to the realities of today's market is even worse.

Take a close look at your accounts now. Check back here tomorrow, to find out how you can determine which of your law firm accounts are at risk.

(Click here for full article on