DANA POINT, Calif. — The time of a head-in-the-sand approach to reacting to the waves of change buffeting the legal industry has — fortunately and gratefully — ended.
But that’s not due to any cessation in these waves or because this change isn’t coming as quickly or as dramatically as thought.
It’s because that change is already here.
This development was strongly underscored in the opening sessions of the 26th Annual Law Firm Marketing Partner Forum, this week at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel resort in Dana Point, Calif.
“The legal industry has moved away from a time of calling for great change but not really changing,” says Mike Abbott, Global Lead of Enterprise Thought Leadership & Content Strategy at Thomson Reuters, in opening the Forum this morning. Abbott describes a more rational industry outlook where the systemic change that has long been predicted and debated is now here, and along with it, an understanding that those law firms which best adapt to it will see the most sustainable success.
“Today’s most successful law firms are focusing on areas of pricing, firm growth, legal tech adoption, workflow efficiency, and business development in order to create a successful strategy in the market place,” Abbott adds.
Law firms also need to identify where on the legal market spectrum they exist — whether as a specialist firm, a general practitioner, or a provider of ancillary legal services, Abbott explains. More importantly, firm leaders have to internally examine this question and decide where they want to allocate resources and investment — in personnel, dollars, and time commitment — and how they can best establish a plan to make that investment happen.
After Abbott’s opening comments, Steven R. Petrie, Chief Operating Officer for the Americas at White & Case and Silvia L. Coulter, Principal at LawVision Group, took attendees through a deep dive into the some of the data from the recently released 2019 Report on the State of the Legal Market as well as the annual Marketing Partner Forum attendee survey to offer a detailed perspective on the current state of the legal market.
Echoing the theme, Petrie describes how law firms need to clearly determine how they can best balance the resources they have and want to invest in the business with the opportunities the legal market is providing to them.
Indeed, another factor that law firms need to be cognizant about is the power of their legal brand, which is a significant factor in determining a firm’s success and sustainability, Petrie says. “The strength of a firm’s legal brand within the industry allows those firms that have strong brands to attract better talent, be more disciplined on price, interact with clients more effectively and generally perform better,” he says.
In live electronic polling of the attendees at the Marketing Partner Forum, almost three-quarters (74.2%) responded that their firms were identifying practice areas or industry groups in which the firm should increase its investment.
Further, attendees identified areas of Corporate M&A work and Commercial Litigation as the two area most cited as those that should receive increased investment.