Law firms need to become more commercial to survive in new legal age

04 Nov, 2013

Law firms need to take control of client relationships rather than letting partners and fee earners keep an unhealthy grip on them.

Firms need to put the emphasis on their brand and avoid allowing individuals to build their own mini-empires.

This is the view of Fareeda Jaleel (pictured), the founder of legal business marketing specialist FRJ Business and Marketing Solutions.

Fareeda said: “I know from my conversations with a number of Senior and Managing Partners in law firms that one of their biggest frustrations is the lack of team spirit among their fellow partners and fee earners.

“Rather than individuals owning a client relationship and building their own mini-empires, the relationships should be with the firm and the firm should be focussing on building brand affinity.

“Many law firms are simply shooting themselves in the foot by not seizing control of client relationships. If the relationship remains the sole preserve of the individual partner or fee earner, they will naturally look at what they personally can offer their client.

“Whereas, if the relationship is owned by the wider firm then it opens up multiple other opportunities to cross-sell the rest of the firm’s services and products.

“The problem is compounded if a partner or fee earner leaves a firm because it is more likely that the client list will go with them because the client’s affinity is to the solicitor rather than the brand.

“You cannot underestimate the value of clients – they are a key asset in any law firm. Partners need to work together to understand that the future growth and health of their firm will be that much greater if they talk about the firm’s brand rather than the individual.”

Fareeda said that another related issue was the failure of many law firms to understand the importance of applying the “80/20 rule”.

In simple terms, this is the adage that 20 per cent of a firm’s customers produce 80 per cent of total sales.

Fareeda said: “The good firms are the ones which get the 80/20 rule and have the best systems in place to ensure that they are putting the maximum possible focus on the 20 per cent of clients which are essential to their business’s prosperity.

“Law firms are like any other business in that sales are everything. It therefore follows that you need to understand where your business comes from, who is spending the most money with you, what products and services they are buying and any trends and patterns in sales.

“You then need to ensure that the firm is making sure that those 20 per cent of clients are receiving as much love and attention as possible.

“I am constantly amazed by how many law firms and businesses in general fail to grasp the importance of collecting and mining their sales data, especially as there is some very cost effective software available these days to help speed up and streamline the entire process.”

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