In a Down Market, Lawyers Must Think Like MBAs
In this new post-downturn reality of a highly competitive, shrinking legal market, many lawyers have begun to branch out from the traditional methods of running a firm and are exploring strategies widely utilized in the business world to attract new clients, keep the ones they have, and manage their firms more efficiently.
The Wall Street Journal details the steps some firms and attorneys are taking to learn more about business methods and development in a pair of articles today.
The first article
discusses how firms and solos are looking to marketing firms and
consultants for help in training their lawyers in business development
techniques. While this is nothing new, the number of firms looking for marketing help suggests that the
legal industry as a whole is beginning to shift to an understanding
that the new economic realities require a shift away from the old way
of doing things.
One interesting trend noted by the author is
the move towards individual training. Rather than rely on legal
marketing departments and large-scale brand building, firms have begun
to instruct individual attorneys in the arcane art of attracting and
The article cites a survey of 120 marketing
directors at large law firms which found that 70 percent of them plan
to provide more instruction in marketing to their attorneys.
idea that lawyers should have some client skills is not new, but the
focus on strategic networking and image building show just how
important business development has become in a year that's already
shaping up to be just as dismal as 2008
FindLaw, by the way, offers a wide range of marketing resources and services for law firms and attorneys. Go to lawyermarketing.com
to learn more.
In addition to marketing, firms are beginning to notice
that operating their organizations efficiently can be a major
cost-saver. Many firms have begun sending partners or up-and-coming
attorneys to mini-MBA programs to learn how to run their increasingly
These programs teach lawyers, usually in about three or four days, the
basics of organizational behavior, finance, accounting, risk analysis
and strategic planning. This has the potential to either move lawyers
into management positions at firms or help them better manage their
businesses - as well as help them to understand their clients'
Which, in times like these, is almost as important as knowing the law.