Beating the Competition: Identifying What Differentiates Your Law Firm

Author: Amy Rossetti | March 8, 2016

According to the Thompson Reuters Legal Executive Survey, the demand for legal services has flat lined. The market is completely oversaturated and revenue growth is slow. To stand out from the competition in this environment, law firms are going to need to get creative.

Why should a client choose your firm over another? It’s a deceptively hard question. If you’ve never thought about what your firm does better than anyone else, answering that question may take some serious thinking. But the key to growing your revenue lies in the answer. To help you identify what differentiates your firm from the rest, try answering these four questions.

What is your competition doing?
In order to define what you do differently, you need to research what your competition is doing. Not only do you need to compete with traditional law firms, but new firms—like virtual firms and accordion firms that hire independent contractors as needed—are popping up as well. Research a few firms that you respect, both in your category and outside of it, and identify the characteristics that make you admire them. Can you apply what they’re doing to your own firm and replicate it?

What are other industries doing?
You don’t need to stick to the legal industry for inspiration. Other professional services firms, like real estate, accounting and financial services firms, are also facing similar challenges as they move into the 21st century. What solutions have they found? Technology companies in particular are great at differentiating themselves from the competition. Their solutions may not be a perfect fit, but they might spark some ideas.

What is your history?
Now that you understand what other businesses are doing, you need to understand where your firm fits in. Take a look at trends that dominate your firm’s history. What kinds of cases have you handled successfully or enjoyed working on the most? What industries are most of your clients working in? When clients write testimonials, what traits do they praise the most? Finding a common theme will point you towards the things your firm does best. If it seems like your firm is all over the map, pick one or two points that appeal to you the most. How can you mold your firm to move in that direction?

How can you communicate your differences?
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of differentiating your firm is figuring out how to communicate it, and it goes beyond writing a slogan or motto. Your points of differentiation need to permeate everything you do, from what kind of clients you take on to what kind of marketing tactics you employ. Experiment with words, phrases, ideas and images that relate back to your differentiation points and use them consistently when creating strategic plans, communicating with potential clients and speaking about your firm. It’s a long process, but staying true to your differentiation points will eventually be reflected in your revenue.

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