Three Key Takeaways from the 2018 Law Firms in Transition Survey

According to Altman Weil’s most recent Law Firms in Transition Survey, only six percent of partners are highly confident that their firms are prepared to adapt to changes in the legal marketplace. Six percent! That’s down significantly from 2011, when 24 percent of partners believed their firms could manage change successfully.

Why the lack of faith? It seems that, on the whole, law firms aren’t innovating at the rate they should be. It’s business as usual, which doesn’t cut it when the market is one major disruption away from a complete overhaul. What’s more, partners know that their firms need to step up their game, but on average, they aren’t doing anything about it. Perhaps the lack of action is due to fear lingering from the 2009 downturn, or maybe it’s just uncertainty about where to begin. Regardless of the reasons, this problem needs to be addressed.

You can’t snap your fingers and make massive change happen overnight, but there is one area where you can make improvements almost immediately: your marketing and business development strategy. Making minor upgrades here can be less daunting and produce results relatively quickly. If you make just one or two changes in your firm this year, consider focusing on your marketing efforts for maximum impact.

For inspiration, check out our three big takeaways from the 2018 Law Firms in Transition Survey:

  1. Know What Sets You Apart

Although non-traditional firms and law-focused tech companies have shaken up the market, many law firms are more similar than they are different. So, why should a client choose your firm over another one? That’s a question you must answer if you want to grow in a rapidly changing market. The survey points out several areas where you can differentiate yourself from the competition, including your practice offering, client relationship management and your geographic area. According to the survey, most clients are interested in firm efficiency and value for cost. Once you figure out how your firm is different (or how it can become different), that differentiation should be the foundation of your marketing and business development strategy.

  1. Don’t React Later – Act Now

When asked why their firm hasn’t kept up with the times, nearly 70 percent of respondents said it’s because partners resist change. Change will happen whether partners are ready for it or not, and it’s best to be prepared before a major crisis happens. Not everyone in the firm will have this sense of urgency, but firm innovators should move forward even without total support. Some people will never be completely on board with new ways of doing things. Others, however, will learn to adapt once they see that innovation brings results. All it takes is a few people to get the ball rolling.

  1. Embrace New Opportunities

There’s no doubt that market disruption will make some traditional marketing strategies and business practices obsolete. That can be a scary thought, but take comfort in the fact that these losses only serve to make room for new opportunities – and embracing these opportunities will make your firm stronger. A transition period is the perfect time to develop new marketing tactics, become a thought leader in a burgeoning practice area or experiment with technology. Challenge your firm to keep up with marketing trends, and don’t be afraid to try something new and fail. Change is hard, but the only way to deal with it is to dive in.

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