October 23, 2008

Current State of the Legal Profession

Ron Friedmann is attending the ALM / Incisive Law Firm Leaders Conference in New York this week, and is blogging several sessions. Yesterday, he posted his notes from the first session: Current State of the Legal Profession.

Those who believe the old cliché that law firms are recession-proof should read it. Twice. His notes from the session cover a number of topics near and dear to firms' management -- leverage rates, pricing, quality, compensation alignment, and more.

I found the comment interesting that while GC's uniformly complain about price, their will to change is anything but uniform:

In a lot of matters and for a lot of clients, controlling cost is paramount but there is still an elite group of matters (e.g., investigations), where litigation budgets still will not matter very much. But many firms have grown so much that they really cannot focus on this sweet spot. So some larger firms find that they have to compete on cost. But surveys show that while GC complaining is universal, their will to act, to change, to exercise control is far from universal. Many clients are not willing to act on costs if they get decent service and results. If you look at the current crisis, clients have had a flight to quality (that is, high price firms). So cost-sensitivity may not be as acute as some think or say.
Thus providing high-quality services while anticipating their future needs, and being responsive and accessible are still some of the best ways to retain clients in good and bad times. If they're happy with the results, it's psychologically more difficult for someone to change providers based purely on cost differences and promises.

Also check out Ron's great posts on other sessions, David Maister on Passion, People and Principles, and Growth Strategies for Success in Large Law Firms.

Topic(s):   Law Practice Management
Posted by Jeff Beard