Each year, we research and identify the current trends in the business of practicing law. Frequently, however, I’m reminded that seeing the trends is only the first step. The second is answering the important question, “What does it mean to me?” If you’re enterprising, the answer to that question could be the beginning of a successful new business strategy.
Here’s my advice on which trends individual lawyers should be paying attention to—and thoughts about how to work them to your advantage.
- Client Focus. Develop a reputation as not only a business lawyer, but also the “trusted business advisor” for privately held and family businesses. The Board of Directors in many of these companies is made up entirely of family members. They benefit greatly from having an outside director who is a businessperson as well as a lawyer, has knowledge about the industry they’re involved in, and can identify or anticipate both business and legal issues. If you practice in a solo or in small firm, develop referral relationships with lawyers in various practice areas for when your client has needs you can’t address yourself.
- Client Interviews. Many midsize and large firms now conduct client interviews, not only to improve client service but also to guide them in their strategic planning. Take time to sit down with your clients, not only for feedback on your work and service, but also to learn about issues in their industry or profession, and their business and personal plans. Make sure they understand that you’re not billing them for these periodic meetings.
- Cross-selling. If you’re part of a firm, you should be cross-selling other lawyers and firm practices. If you’re a solo, you should be cross-referring to other lawyers or firms that have the special expertise that your clients need.
- Social Media. Don’t get consumed by this trend! Limit the amount of time you devote to it and focus on social media sites such as LinkedIn, which people use for business purposes. You won’t build your practice by sharing recipes or discussing your recent vacation on Facebook or Twitter.
Bob Denney is President of Robert Denney Associates, Inc., providing strategic management and marketing counsel to law firms throughout the United States and parts of Canada. His firm publishes the highly regarded reports on What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession.