How can law firms transform new business threats into opportunities?

Most business sectors have always had to work with a key truth: change is the only constant. Yet up until recently, the legal sector has not been significantly affected by changing external conditions. Not any more. With the introduction of the Legal Services Act or ‘Tesco’ law, law firms simply cannot avoid the need to adapt, writes Inzar Haq.

Feeling the pressure
A new report by Baker Tilly shows that a quarter of law firms expect to change their business strategy in response to the Legal Services Act. The study also shows an increase over the last three years in the number of firms that believe they will have to change their strategy – from 9% in 2010 to 25% in 2013. Fewer law firms now think that the Legal Services Act will have a positive effect on their business, according to the research.

Commercial urgency
Aside from the Legal Services Act, challenging economic conditions are also pressuring law firms to define themselves more distinctively.  The legal profession is increasingly becoming a commercial sector like any other. As a result, it is now more vulnerable to all the elements associated with competition: marketing, strategic placement, competitive advantage erosion – the list is endless. The fact is that law firms have no choice but to rise to the challenge.

Seeing the other side of the coin
It all sounds like doom and gloom. But there is another way to look at this.  By responding strategically to change, law firms can actually increase their market share and become better prepared for the future. Marketing can not only be powerful at a strategic level for law firms – it can also be fun!

With clear and focused marketing activities, I’ve seen how responding more creatively to change can make law firms more successful even in challenging times.

Evolving beyond the ordinary
So rather than just looking at how a firm communicates, the approach must be to adapt how it stands within its sector. This can be encapsulated into the following marketing imperatives:

  • Ensuring that corporate branding reflects a firm’s true identity and corporate values
  • Using identity to create an organisational persona reflected throughout the organisation
  • Becoming more market orientated by identifying what clients really want – not what ‘your organisation’ thinks they want
  • Having a clear route to market
  • Objectively auditing all activities.

The reality for most businesses has always been that without changing they get left behind. For law firms right now, with the right marketing approach, the challenges offer a genuine opportunity to evolve.

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