I have now been writing this column for Above the Law for over two years. Indeed, this is my sixty-ninth article. And this will be my last article under the Reinventing the Law Business name.
While I have enjoyed coming up with new ways to look at law firms and the legal industry (and will continue to do so for my own firm, Duval & Stachenfeld LLP), I also want to share my thoughts on another passion of mine – marketing. It is at the heart of what I do, day in and day out, and I would like to share my ideas with other lawyers. This is something I am quite good at, and I think I could be very useful in helping people at all phases of their careers to become excellent rainmakers and business builders. So I will be starting a new column – in two weeks – that will be called:
“Power Niche Marketing”
So if you like what I write, you will still have me around. And if not, you will not be rid of me so easily.
To conclude this series of articles – and leave you with possibly the most important and all-encompassing thoughts about the law business – I submit to you the following:
The law business is unique in that there are really “two” customers to satisfy:
First – of course, there are the clients. If you don’t make them happy, then you have a serious problem.
Second – and not as obvious – there are the lawyers at your firm. If you don’t make them happy, you have a serious problem of a different sort.
The question might then be asked, which is more important of the two? I believe most law firms believe the clients are more important, but I beg to differ. This is because a well-run law firm with high-quality lawyers (i.e., “Talent”) can always seek, and usually obtain, more clients. But when the high-quality lawyers – the Talent – leave, there is nothing left to sell – it is game over.
To paraphrase Peter Drucker, lawyers are so-called “knowledge workers.” They carry the means of production between their ears. If they aren’t happy, they can easily leave.
And this is the essence of the great mystery of the law business. On its face, it is SO simple; you just buy hours wholesale and resell them retail, at a marked-up price. What could be easier?
However the trouble is as a law firm you usually own nothing at all, since there are no non-competes and the lawyers are free to leave any time, and take the clients with them. So all you really own is the desire of the lawyers to stick around.
Which brings me to the conclusion I stated above: namely, that your number one mission should be keeping those lawyers – your Talent – on the team. If you can do that, your law firm will succeed, and if you cannot, your law firm will fail. As Dr. Seuss says, “Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed.”
Indeed, I believe in my heart that the reason my firm has succeeded so well, so far, is that we make our mission “ATR,” i.e., Attract, Train, and Retain Talent. When we focus on this mission, everything else falls into place so easily….
I hope this article – and my previous articles – have been helpful to my readers and to the legal profession as a whole.
I will see you – my readers — in a couple of weeks in my Power Niche Marketing column.
My sincere best to everyone.