A recent article in Bloomberg BNA (@BigLawBizmakes it vividly clear what law firms should be doing to win lucrative work from clients.   As Blake Edwards (@BlakeEdwardz) reported:  “David Leitch, Group Vice President and General Counsel at Ford Motor Company suggests lawyers should also dig into a company’s SEC filings” as as a means to win the business of clients.  “There’s a lot of information about the business in there, too” Leitch said, “information about how we think, how we’re organized, and what our risks and challenges are.”

Leitch also told Edwards that: “‘Traditional marketing, like law firm advertisements in various publications that say “We’re different. We create value.”—I think that’s a complete waste of time. I’m never going to hire a law firm based on what I read in an advertisement. Firms that do their homework, and think not just about themselves, but about you, as a prospective client—those firms are going to be much more successful.'” 

General Counsel have spoken clearly: Know my business in detail

This is another in a now long line of interviews with GC’s who have all made it clear that law firms need to know a clients business before seeking to provide them with legal services.  Hence, firms need to go beyond pitching to clients as one competitor in a crowded tender field – and research and identify actionable commercial opportunity or danger – or legal risk or opportunity — and seek to provide solutions for achievement of new goals or amelioration of new risks. This is the fundamental means by which firms should interact with clients. As informed, commercially astute market participants, not advertisers.

But how to do this?

Firms can’t deliver this value if they don’t seek to become sophisticated strategic advisors to clients as well as their legal counsel.  They must also put in place a system that capably identifies ideal potential clients they are well suited to serve, then articulates highly specific value propositions to them that meets their unique needs.  Vitally – firms need sophisticated, informed efforts in place that drive this process to the close of new client engagements.  Modern legal practice management, just like law firm generalist marketing promotion, can’t do it alone. Law firms must have what within the sector is known as competitive intelligence and a sales pipeline in order to secure the business – not just the attention – of the discerning corporate C-suite executive.

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal. An independent writer & editor, he's the author of: A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets (Ark Group 2014).

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