The Bar News

Best Practice tip of the week: How to take your firm to the next level

Asked and Answered By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC Q. I am a member of a three attorney firm. I think we know where we are as a firm, where we want to be, but we just don't know how to get to the next level. Ideas? A. Rather that following the pack - attorneys need to find ways in which their firm's can "dare to be different." Many attorneys are providing the same service - solving the same sort of legal problems for their clients using similar tools strategies/approaches. To many clients - attorneys all look the same. What can you do to stand out? Marketing is about more than just promoting the firm to get clients. It is also about deciding on: 1.  What services to offer, where, and to whom? Sometimes less is more - by focusing on fewer areas of practice. Just because a law firm focuses on say three areas of practice - doesn't mean that it does not handle matters in other areas. It just means you are building you brand around the three core areas. These are the areas you primarily promote, speak about and write about. Broader geography? 2.  Pricing. Not just the amount to charge but how to charge. Clients are asking for budgetary certainty? Get creative. 3.  Delivery and producing the service. Are you doing all that you can using technology, staffing, work processes, etc. to minimize the cost of producing your services? If you are - aggressively promote it. Office location, client site visits, etc., all come into play here. 4.  Promotion (which can include advertising, e-newsletters, newsletters, websites, networking, seminars, press interviews, social networking on the internet, etc.) Effective marketing requires a mix of the above elements in your plan and then effectively communicated. Many attorneys suffer from random (unplanned) acts of marketing or business development. To be effective you need to be well focused, have a plan to focus the firm's efforts, and be disciplined and make excellent use of your professional time. Often the largest marketing investment is not advertising or the cost of other marketing vehicles - it is the cost of you non-billable (or investment) time. A business/marketing plan (10 pages or less) for the firm can do wonders. Sit down with the other attorneys in the firm, do some brainstorming away from the office, and put a plan together. Then work the plan. John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC, is a past chair and member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Law Office Management and Economics. For more information on law office management please direct questions to the ISBA General ListServ, which the John and other committee members reviews, or view archived copies of The Bottom Line Newsletters. Contact John at
Posted on November 25, 2009 by Chris Bonjean
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