Anyone reading this knows that law is a competitive industry. And it’s very hard to take business from an incumbent law firm, especially when law firms have been conditioned to do everything possible — including offering discounts to existing clients — to retain work. But getting work from new clients, while difficult, is not an impossible task.
Others on these pages have discussed the importance of finding a “new” niche, or developing expertise in a legal area undergoing rapid change, as a way of getting companies to consider you and your firm. Developing expertise in a new or changing area of law is definitely one of the better way to displace incumbents. But that is just the first step. You also have to “project” your expertise to the market, and have a plan in place for taking advantage of any opportunities that come your way as a result.
Projecting expertise can be done both internally at your firm and externally. Internally, through discussions with fellow partners regarding your capabilities, and the firm’s marketing department to discuss ways of making sure the broader partnership and existing clients are aware of them. Externally?
Through the familiar channels, whether it be giving CLE, writing articles, or attending conferences. There are plenty of resources a lawyer can consult in order to determine what types of “marketing” tactics they can and should be using. I do not need to add to the din here.
At the same time as there is a cottage industry that exists to teach a regular lawyer how to turn into a rainmaker, there is often little guidance offered to attorneys about what really needs to get done to bring in a new client willing to try a new firm. Whether you are offering a “new” set of legal services in a developing area of law, or trying to crack into a client already represented by another firm in a traditional practice area, having a game plan for taking advantage of any opportunities your marketing efforts generate is critical. And an important part of that game plan is understanding your “value proposition”; one surefire way to do so is to convince the prospective client that by going with your firm they will be getting a great value for their legal spend.
Measuring “value” is a difficult task, best done on a case-to-case basis, because what a client sees as value is often highly subjective. But there is room to consider a handy rule of thumb for evaluating whether your marketing efforts are promising and likely to result in new work for your firm. We can call it the 30/10 rule.
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