What do you need to draw in better clients and cases? You need to be a better lawyer. That is the most authentic way.
Better in matters that successfully distinguish you in the market and present you as an alternative for a type of client you can professionally advise but who has not considered you as an option yet.
Even if you tend to be overwhelmed by everyday tasks (a short-term approach), you should ask yourself if you would be better-off focusing on a project or projects that can bring in better clients, ‘better’ meaning clients who value professional services and are more profitable. If this is one of the firm’s priorities, then improving the firm’s professionals will also have to be a priority, for only with better lawyers will the firm grow too. That is the most genuine approach.
The firm will need to invest in strategy and, more specifically, in the management of both the firm’s and lawyers’ personal brands; and do so boldly, as a mark of trust in the firm’s professional team. It will need to invest in the trust-generating asset par excellence, the brand, an asset often neglected by small and medium-sized firms, but which larger firms do take greater care of or at least pay more attention to. For some, it is a priority; for others, something they neglect or ignore, often resulting in professional stagnation, loss of competitiveness and profitability or having to live a professional life without the satisfactions they probably deserve.
Lawyers offer strategic solutions to clients’ problems, but seldomly think about their own. In terms of legal marketing, lawyers tend to be ‘tactical,’ they focus on action: they attend events, give talks, publish articles, and so on. But they often lack preparation and training (related to their talents and distinguishing features) and a strategy prior to action. Does action without preparation ever pay off?
Why do we stick to our comfort zone if we know that to become the best version of ourselves as professionals we need to move out of it? Because of our insecurities, mostly those we do not acknowledge, or those we don’t look to improve.
We all have our own insecurities, yet we need to acknowledge and identify those particular ones, as well as character flaws, which can block or slow down our professional career; we need to free ourselves of them, or at least learn how to manage them, to be able to improve ourselves and our firm.
The partners, often business partners, should be involved and actively participate in the management of the firm, the way any other entrepreneur would, as they are de facto entrepreneurs. Just like everyone else, they have great potential for development, even if they are managing partners or the CEO.
We tend to have one or two critical character defects that can slow down our advancement or make us miss opportunities: a lack of empathy, narcissistic, egoistic or perfectionistic tendencies, impatience, impulsiveness, procrastination habits, a lack of organization or a fear of delegating, poor time management, lack of business vision, an inferiority complex, building relationships based on their business value rather than on genuine interest – that can backfire – and so on.
You need to identify those key factors, acknowledge them and improve them. This process will make you more efficient, effective and will contribute to your personal growth, which is key towards developing trusting relationships. It will also make you freer, as you extricate yourself from what has held you back or bound you.
Associates and juniors
In order for associates and juniors to find and develop the best version of themselves and thus contribute to the firm’s competitiveness, they should also be aware of what they need to improve in themselves, and train in skills that will distinguish them from the competition. Skills will set them apart.
They need to be in the right firm, one that allows them to grow, with people who show patience, where they can enjoy learning to produce results.
In short, if lawyers and their firms wish to grow and gain a strong position in the market, they need to acknowledge those elements they wish to improve to achieve their goals. A space to better serve others (clients, collaborators and other stakeholders) and contribute to making the firm more competitive and profitable.
Those who have the courage to grow, setting themselves clear goals, find new opportunities.