Posted by: johnocunningham | December 26, 2017

What Law Firms Need – Now More than Ever

In 2017, law firm revenues made reasonably healthy gains for the first time in years, and yet there was a rebound in the number of firms fading from existence, as competitive pressures forced more mergers and more disruptions that led to firms just blowing up.

According to a recent article in the New York Law Journal, headhunter raids and partner disagreements were key factors in a shifting law firm landscape this year as several well-known firm names disappeared from view or announced that they will be closing their doors, including New York’s Chadbourne & Parke, San Francisco’s Sedgwick, and the U.K.’s King & Wood.

The global phenomenon is not a short-term blip, as noted by literally hundreds of legal consultants and trade press observers. At a time when many law firms are held together by nothing more than a common desire to make more money, it is too easy for competitors to pick partners off, and it is too common for partners to fight – over the money that is getting harder to earn. As a successful senior partner once said to me, “if the only reason a partner comes to a firm is for more money, then they will eventually leave – for more money.”

Going into 2018, every law firm needs the following more than ever:

  • A long-term vision and mission
  • Both short-term and long-term strategic plans to achieve the stated mission
  • A culture built around the long-term vision and a group of committed leaders bound together by it
  • Cultural “glue” made of shared values that binds both lawyers and clients together
  • A well-developed understanding of the legal marketplace and the competitors in it
  • A well-developed plan for marketing and communications to clients, prospects and referral sources

Practicing law is harder than ever. But the future need not be depressing or bleak. A firm with well-chosen goals, a carefully crafted strategy for achieving them, and the right people matched to a consciously developed culture can thrive. Such a firm can even be a thrilling and energetic place to work.

Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018 !


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