Thursday, April 30, 2009

Seven Strategic Uses of Law Firm Excess Capacity

Here are seven ideas on how law firms can repurpose available associate or partner hours for a longer term investment in potential new business:

1. Assign an associate to go in-house on the client side for a flat rate or other alternative billing arrangement. Make them available to tackle some of the stubborn issues that might benefit from in-depth analysis to uncover new solutions.

2. Take a leadership role in an industry trade association committee that is addressing regulatory change or standards-setting. Looking ahead 50 years, we are facing dramatic changes in energy policy, healthcare, financial instruments, and ethics. What will be the legal platform for these issues?

3. Bar associations at the local, state and national level are also grappling with these complex societal changes. Get involved! Lawyer referrals represent a significant source of new business leads, and this is an effective way to demonstrate your firm's expertise.

4. Regulatory and executive branch agencies appear to be changing the rules on a daily basis in a way that transcends party politics (bankruptcy law, securities law, and contract rights come to mind). What does this mean for the law? Lawyers can help to analyze, interpret and guide change.

5. Law schools and courts can benefit from highly experienced lawyers who can share their knowledge and expertise.

6. Pro bono work is always in need of qualified attorneys.

7. Pick a emerging topic and build a knowledge base within your firm, expressed in the form of high profile speaking engagements and publishing opportunities.

Of course, not every firm can afford to make an investment of this nature. But those that do have an opportunity to build a place for themselves as a "thought leader" in the long run.

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