competitor intelligence analysis

Survey clearly shows law firms who their biggest competitor really is – their client!

I have long held (see this post from September 2017 [‘Do you know who your competitors are?‘] and this post from July 2014 [‘5 steps to take when you client becomes your biggest competitor‘]) that in a hyper competitive legal market, your client – and not any of your more traditional law firm competitors in private practice – is actually the biggest competitor you face when trying to win new work.

Given this, it should come as no surprise that I found the graph below in the recent (September 2020) Gartner publication ‘2021 Legal Planning & Budgeting – Preview: State of the Legal Function‘ of interesting:

Take note all you private practice lawyers, in a three year period between 2018 and 2020, ‘The ratio of legal spend in-house vs outside‘ moved from 50.2% / 49.8% in 2018 to 57% / 43% in 2020.

That equates to a 13% swing of legal spend in-house over this timespan.

In a period when legal spend on outside lawyers actually grew! (Probably providing a false sense of security!).

And, these numbers pre-date COVID. So it is highly likely this movement of work in-house has, and will continue to, grown.

So, next time your firm is doing a SWAT and/or Competitor Analysis, make sure to keep some room for the biggest competitor out there – your client!


Does your firm need a Head of Growth?

Business Development image

I was away in the delightful Nelson Bay last week and so missed the opportunity to join the webinar co-presented by  John Grimley (@JohnGrimley) and Ivan Rasic (@Ivan_Rasic) on the issue of ‘Supercharge Your Law Firm Revenue With NewLaw And Big4 Sales Methods‘. Fortunately a recording of the webinar was made and you can now listen to this on YouTube (approximately one hour long, including the no-holds-barred Q+A session).

Anyhow, listening to John and Ivan’s webinar reminded me of a post on the Harvard Business Review website last month (February 19) titled ‘Every Company Needs a Growth Manager‘. In the post, the authors Jeff Bussgang and Nadav Benbarak set out very compelling reasons why every company (and not just Silicon Valley Tech companies) should have a growth manager or Head of Growth, many of which apply equally to professional services firms and so prompted this post.

Borrowing from Bussgang and Benbarak, the job description (JD) for the Head of Growth role at a law firm would likely say:

Oversight of client acquisition, activation, retention and cross-selling; working cross-functionally across the firm with Marketing & Business Development, IT, HR, Finance and Knowledge/Precedents to design, implement and execute on profitable growth initiatives within the business.

Although a number – if not all – of these functions are already happening with initiatives such as Key Account Management, Business Development, etc. I believe it is fair to say that it would be rare for these to be centralised under any one person’s control.

More to the point, many firms would benefit from giving an individual or team (depending on size) oversight to monitoring the right data and behaviours to ensure these key initiatives move forward without roadblocks. In turn, this should hopefully install a profitable growth mentality (aka, “profit principal”) within the firm as a whole (rather than the more traditional approach of having “star” teams).

It goes without saying that underlying all of this needs to be a well defined firm-wide strategic plan, which includes clearly defined growth objectives/targets. In addition, any firm looking to implement such a role/scheme would need to have a robust and honest client feedback program in place, as client insight needs to underpin any growth program.

Finally, the Head of Growth would need to work very closely with the Knowledge / Library team to implement a state of the art competitor intelligence analysis program – after all, it helps to know what’s going on in the market if you want to grow!

Ultimately, your Head of Growth would have the creative, analytical and strategic skills to work closely with the firm’s partners and leadership to get a clear understanding of your clients’ and target clients’ needs with the direct authority to implement a program or set of initiatives to target these needs and profitably grow your firm.

To sum up, although it would be a little unfair to say that, historically, professional services firms have not seen a need to grow their book of business – regardless of whether that was profitably or otherwise –  today’s highly competitive market certainly warrants your firm employing a Head of Growth position who is charged with oversight on growing the revenue and top-line profit of your firm.