In our two prior posts, Innovation Case Study 1 and Innovation Case Study 2, we described two different law firm approaches to innovation. This third case study describes the efforts at Perkins Coie with a focus on those being led or shepherded by Toby Brown, the firm’s Chief Practice Management Officer. Toby has been in the vanguard of the pricing profession for law firms and is a founder of the P3 Conference now hosted by the Legal Marketing Association. He believes that the only way firms can truly innovate is to be in constant dialogue with clients about their needs, their options and their perceptions of value.
Perkins Coie Client Advantage
Perkins Coie has been engaged for many years in innovative ways to partner with clients. One outcome of its approach to holistic client service was the development of the Perkins Coie Client Advantage initiative. Recognizing that legal expertise and advice were only part of the value that clients were seeking, Client Advantage brings together a multi-disciplinary team of professionals that deliver innovative legal-ops solutions, better cost-control effectiveness and greater efficiency to the firm’s clients.
Toby Brown came to Perkins Coie in 2016 after serving in senior leadership roles at several AmLaw 100 firms in pricing, practice management, business development and knowledge management for nine years and as Director of the Utah State Bar for eighteen years. Shortly after his arrival at Perkins Coie, Toby joined a team of the firm’s professionals to work on client service solutions and legal ops innovation. In addition to Toby and the firm’s COO, on the team are the firm’s leaders of:
- Recruiting and Retention
- Business Development and Client Service
- Information Technology
- Staff Training and Development
- Knowledge Management
- Litigation Consulting
- Pro Bono
- Financials and Billing
These professionals meet regularly and work together with the firm’s legal teams to help deliver coordinated, practical solutions that are tailored to each client’s business needs to build business value. They often work directly with the clients’ legal operations staff to offer support, ideas and access to tools and methodologies.
True Partnering with Clients
Toby regularly meets with the firm’s top clients to understand their legal and operational needs and challenges, negotiate creative, value-based pricing and monitor their satisfaction with the firm’s services. These meetings often result in intel about what other firms are doing and watershed moments about what clients need.
Representative collaborations where the firm has had measurable successes with specific clients include:
- Reporting (quarterly business reports, KPIs, predictive analytics, dashboards)
- Technology solutions PC Matter Management tool, Portfolio Dashboard, Patent Prosecution Portfolio Management/P4
- Project management and process mapping
- Electronic billing
- Knowledge management (Emerging Companies & Venture Capital Forms System)
- Value-Based Pricing Models
- Continuing Legal Education
- Custom Training for Executives and Business Staff
- Diversity (Joint 1L diversity fellowship)
- Pro bono
Stories about how effective Perkins Coie has been in their client partnering initiatives include successful case studies of key clients:
Software Company – Two flat fees for separate portfolios of legal services, dashboards that reflect budgets and staffing in real time, quarterly business review calls on high level issues and business strategy, working together on pro bono activities, shared lawyer training, diversity internships.
Technology Company – A fixed fee for all of the work for a specified business unit. This involves a unique process and tool for on-boarding new projects, reviewed and adjusted annually.
A Retail Company – A fixed annual portfolio fee for all contract review. New matters are initiated by the client in a custom portal allowing faster turn-around times on documents, and better data analytics on contracts volumes, cycle times and contract types.
Lest you think Toby’s focus is only on providing discounts through AFAs, it isn’t at all. His focus is on revenue and helping determine how to execute “run the company” work profitably. He’s helping the firm get better and better at winning big portfolios of work and over a three-year period converting the fees into highly profitable revenue of increasingly significant amounts. His focus is on the “profit needle” – his metric for measuring how close any innovation solution and client collaboration helps move the needle to greater profits and profitability.
RainMaking Oasis provides consulting, training and coaching services to law firms and lawyers in the areas of business development and growth strategy, innovation, client retention and expansion, succession planning and leadership and personal effectiveness skills. Please contact Susan Duncan at firstname.lastname@example.org.