New Legislation and Court Judgments: When Do You Create a New Service Line? As published in Best Lawyers Winter Business Edition 2016

Law firms are quick to post on websites regarding recently passed regulations or court decisions, but they rarely assess whether the situation warrants the creation of a new service line. In order to fully support clients while also strategically growing their law firms, leadership should be prepared to create offerings pursuant to market demands. The following criteria helps determine the viability of a new product:

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Three Ways to Attract Superior Associates Other Than Salary Hikes

Competition is fierce as ever among global law firms wishing to entice top-quality law school graduates. A base salary of $180,000 for first-year associates certainly draws attention. Much of that attention is coming from general counsel within the Fortune 100 concerned about fees. Savvy law firms will use this debate to bolster alternative methods of recruiting top talent while appeasing their discerning clients. Here are three ways to attract good lawyers while improving client satisfaction:

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Expanding Services to Clients: Leveraging Relationships and Demonstrating Value

An existing client, one you’ve had a terrific relationship with for over six years has just issued a Request for Proposal (RFP). The client is looking for an additional provider of services in an area for which your firm has expertise but has not been previously engaged to supply. Because you realize that client retention is key in today’s marketplace and it is where seventy percent of tomorrow’s revenue will come from, you understand the urgency in capturing this new piece of business and serving your client in a superior manner. You must be willing to share this relationship with others in your firm and you must be able to convince the client that your firm can bring value. You will need to leverage relationships on both sides of the table as you examine the risks and rewards involved. This is an excellent opportunity for self-reflection and will require an individual to rely on specific characteristics.

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Current Event-Based Questions: Selling Services Organically

Accountants and lawyers often remark that they did not go into their fields to become sales people. Most successful rainmakers in professional services admit it took them a long time to establish significant business and that they were more comfortable when the process seemed organic instead of intentional. To sell in an organic fashion implies that deals come about naturally. It sounds like luck when in fact it is often based on the seller’s ability to seize upon events in a timely manner and engage buyers by asking good questions to gather important information.

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Building Client Loyalty: A Helpful Checklist

The ultimate goal in developing business is to create a mutually rewarding relationship with your clients. As you transform your working connection with a customer from one-­off transactions with limited scope to that of on­going trusted advisor and member of the client’s inner circle, both you and the client reap economic benefits, operational advantages and a rewarding sense of purpose. The client will always reach out to you for advice because you are knowledgeable, helpful, and available. Loyalty transcends pricing matters and logistics.

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The Road to Partnership Is Paved With Discipline

If you’re an associate attorney employed by a private partnership, you have two jobs instead of one. First, as a beginning lawyer, you need to gain knowledge and skills to effectively complete tasks to exceed the expectations of supervising partners as well as clients. Initially, you may believe this is the most important task-at-hand deserving all your time and energy. But if you’ve been working for a few years, you’ve probably noticed the ability to sell and acquire new business could be even more important to your long-term career trajectory.

Ten helpful ideas for young associates included in the article. For a reprint of this article as published in The Recorder, please email bpontiff@partnertrackacademy.com.

Old School or Bold School: 5 Signs Your Firm’s Marketing Initiatives Need a Reboot

A popular definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Banking on this definition, many professional services firms can point to various marketing initiatives and call them crazy. Not only are clients and prospects changing their purchasing habits, their expectations about value and delivery of services are also transforming. So why is your marketing program clinging to old methods? Below are five signs your firm’s marketing campaigns are not keeping up with the times as well as suggestions on how to take bold steps toward rejuvenating the existing state of affairs.

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Embracing the Issue/Action/Impact Formula

These three little words, issue/action/impact, may be the most important words any professional services provider, sales executive, or marketing leader can champion. I first heard them used together by my mentor at one of the Big Four accounting firms in the mid-90s. My boss, the late, great Steve Doyle who led regional marketing and business development operations, impressed upon me the importance of utilizing this formula to define client issues and challenges, highlight appropriate service solutions to meet those challenges, and espouse the monetary or risk-mitigating benefits said solutions provide. Think about it. This is what selling boils down to and in today’s market where buyers are highly informed and have access to so much information, they’ll appreciate this kind of succinct, holistic approach.

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Marketing and Business Development: Same Thing, Only Very Different

There has been so much discussion of late in the professional services world about the virtues of business development and account-centric approaches, I’m surprised we still aren’t seeing a great deal of change in the status quo. The reasons for the cultural stall may differ between the accounting and legal worlds, but one truth remains constant: until firms distinguish the difference between marketing and business development, as well as the human resources that support each function and where the two converge, progress will be slow and clients will not benefit from thoughtful evaluations of business needs and imperatives.

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