Client Loyalty Post #4: Does loyalty exist with so many competitors?
This is the fourth our weekly series of posts that provide excerpts and tips from our upcoming book Building Enduring Client Loyalty: A Guide for Lawyers and Their Firms. Click here to save 10%. Enter code ‘BEC10’ at the checkout
Clients have become much more discerning about who they rely on to serve their legal needs. Many clients believe that as much as 80-85% of their legal work is “commodity” or routine work that often does not require the sophistication and cost of a large, expensive law firm and could instead be adequately serviced by alternative providers and/or automation tools.
The options clients now consider for their legal needs include using their own in-house lawyers, multiple outside law firms, law firm subsidiaries or captive alternative staffing companies (LPOs), alternative legal service providers/law companies (ALSPs,) technology companies, eDiscovery companies and subject matter expert or management consultants.
Law firms are finding innovative ways to service clients using multi-disciplinary talent and tools, despite regulatory roadblocks. Proponents of law firm multi-disciplinary and ancillary businesses understand that client needs often extend beyond traditional legal services. Legal problems and strategies often intersect with business priorities, economic analysis, public policy, business valuation, compliance, and many other areas where consulting and accounting firms or individual professionals provide expertise.
Many have formed subsidiaries which are consulting or service arms that are wholly owned by the law firm. Most often, subsidiaries have been founded by and often still run by a partner in the law firm who wears two hats. Clients served are most often existing law firm clients but several subsidiaries also serve independent clients provided they have passed through the law firm’s conflicts system. Occasionally a firm will call a wholly owned subsidiary an affiliate but more often this term refers to a joint venture relationship in which there is shared revenue and profit or some other financial and legal contractual relationship.
Should you compete or collaborate?
Many of the new, tech-enabled law companies offer something most firms have not invested in themselves, nor would many be well-suited to do so. This is an area where client relationship partners should be initiating conversations both with clients and with independent providers to facilitate collaborative partnerships. The new law companies will continue to proliferate, and clients will continue to need what they offer. The lawyers that embrace this and can work effectively in partnership will earn the support of clients in the future.
How do you differentiate yourself and are you delivering on that?
Even after you have been selected and engaged, you want to set the tone right from the outset that you intend to provide superior service and value and that you want the client to keep you apprised of whether that promise is being delivered on. It is likely that your new client is using many other firms and not just yours. Given the competition noted above, firms must be both clear and honest about what it is they do (and don’t do) better than their competitors, including other law firms, law companies and consultants. One way to be sure you are maintaining value and a differentiated brand is to seek regular feedback from your clients and others to be sure that you are delivering on your differentiated promise.
RainMaking Oasis provides consulting and coaching services to law firms and lawyers in the areas of client loyalty and development, business development and growth strategy, collaboration and innovation and succession planning. Please contact Susan Duncan at firstname.lastname@example.org.