Friday, January 02, 2009

Lawyers Build Book of Business in a Bust

"About 80 percent of our partners have never experienced a downturn in profits," according to Kirkland & Ellis Senior Partner Kevin Evanich as quoted in a January 1, 2009 Chicago Tribune article entitled Law firms' woes likely to last.

That's a very telling statement! While many attorneys have certainly worked very hard to build their book of business, doing so in a robust economy is immensely easier than in today's unprecendented economic turmoil. While the dot com bust wasn't fun, it tended to be more focused on one specific economic sector. Today almost every industry sector faces difficult times.

What this means is that the partners and law firms who will emerge winners in 2009 are those who enter the year thoroughly prepared with a solid yet flexible business plan for client retention and new business development. Every attorney should have well defined requirements that roll up to support the overall firm-level performance goal. Monthly and quarterly reviews of actual versus budgeted results will help to indicate needed mid-course corrections.

Is your firm ready?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2009 Biz Dev Focus Sharpens

Today's issue of The AmLaw Daily includes an article entitled, Welcome to the Future: Metrics Count. In the article consultant Mike Huber comments on law firms' tendency to use backward-viewing measures for financial performance analysis. He argues that in the future law firms need to be managed more like a traditional business.

This Rainmaking Lady is reminded of the saying, "you get what you inspect, not what you expect." Business development in today's law firm should include a proactive focus on specific goals that the firm wants to achieve, down to the associate level at a minimum. Leading indicators that point to future performance levels include advance planning in arranging speaking engagements, getting published, referral network management, maintaining active client contact, and other proven biz dev techniques.

For those firms that are using few or ineffective metrics for individual business development efforts, it is best to start with a simple attorney marketing plan that can be easily measured and carefully monitored.

The start of a New Year is a perfect time to engage partners and associates in taking individual responsibility for business development performance that rolls up to firm-level goals.

Click here for a very basic attorney marketing plan that can be used as a point of reference. Remember, never stop marketing!