Posted by: johnocunningham | February 6, 2014

Mid-sized Law Firms Far From Dead

Roughly a decade ago, I wrote an article for Lawyers Weekly publications refuting the accepted wisdom of the time that mid-sized law firms were doomed as the merger mania wave was cresting and threatened to drown those who failed to marry up with bigger “marketing platforms.”

Now, the Wall Street Journal and others have noted that mid-sized firms (200 to 500 lawyers) have successfully doubled their share of big ticket litigation in the last three years. Furthermore, they are reportedly seeing increases in transactional work for smaller to mid-sized companies that desire priority service at more reasonable prices than they can find in the houses of international titans.

The fact is that there will always be a place for providers who can render superior client service at more competitive rates. Smaller clients have become more savvy, shopping for more than reputation, and looking for providers who can and do provide them with great quality and lower overhead.

In fact, law firm marketing expert, Larry Bodine, noted several years ago an increase in the phenomenon of “pinpointing,” a trend in which many corporate clients moved away from “one-stop shopping” and preferred providers to hiring of particular expertise with particularly local presence and a reputation for success in their locations.

For GM, GE, Google and the rest of the Fortune 500, large law firms will always be a key resource because of what they can do on a global scale, but for “mom and pop” enterprises and even smaller public companies with only regional presence, there is no need to hire a global giant, and there is a need for lower costs, lower overhead, and priority service from a provider to whom they are a big deal.

A number of small to mid-size firms that house partners with large-firm experience now boast of delivering big-firm experience at small-firm prices. The message resonates with many clients and now mid-sized and smaller firms are reaping the benefits of competing on service and price for clients who need to be conscious of both.

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