Getting strategic about law firm business acceptance

Post-recession market forces have heralded a new era of law firm strategic planning. Previously able to focus almost exclusively on rate increases and client loyalty for growth, firms now face intense competition from in-house legal, alternative service providers, and other firms. Leading firms are taking stock and have begun strategically planning their futures.

This rate chart shows why large firms want new strategies: Growth has been relatively flat for the past eight years.

Aligning business acceptance with strategy
Operationalizing these plans is the next frontier for many firms. Consider business acceptance: How can a firm ensure the new business it takes on won’t interfere with long-term objectives in the plan? With new technology, firms can code strategic criteria into the business evaluation process and determine if the opportunity aligns with firm strategy. (You can explore this trend here.)

Growth strategies create conflicts complexity
A lot of firms are pursuing mergers and lateral-hiring growth strategies. 2018 is already on pace for a record merger year—by September, 56 mergers were in the bag. Acquiring talent and their clients is the goal of these efforts.

Before any merger or lateral hire can happen, conflicts of interest must be cleared. Imagine the mess of sussing-out client overlaps and multidimensional conflicts potential with the thousands of clients across two firms in merger talks. And of course merger talks are always sensitive discussions best quickly evaluated before a news leak.

To support growth strategies, firms need accurate, fast, integrated conflicts technology to power through massive merger conflicts projects. When a firm has its eyes on a big rainmaker lateral hire or on a global merger, the partners want speedy, high-quality conflicts checks. Automated intake templates and procedures are also critical once a deal is done, so the firm can start reaping benefits right away.

Global alignment required
It’s also important that the entire firm evaluates new clients against a global strategic plan. That won’t work if business acceptance decision-making is decentralized. Firms need to avoid, for example, the Paris office taking on a new client that zaps the Palo Alto office’s plans to woo an anchor client perfect for the firm’s 5-year biopharmaceutical micro-niche strategy. Firm-wide technology that assesses all new business evaluations with common strategic criteria can solve this problem.

Read our recent ebook for more information on how firms can align strategic plans with business acceptance. You’ll also learn how other big trends are impacting the future of client evaluations.

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