Evolving from “lawyer’s lawyer” to “client’s lawyer”

Reflections on the impact of the emerging Global 25: Part 3

The first time I heard the term, ‘lawyer’s lawyer’ was during an interview with a senior partner about what made his firm different. His response was that they were “lawyer’s lawyers.”

He was referring to the reputation the firm’s lawyers held within the legal community — among their peers, their opponents and the bench. Being a ‘lawyer’s lawyer’ validates something that drives most every lawyer I know: The need to be recognized for being really good at what they do.

Unfortunately, it is no longer enough to be a ‘lawyer’s lawyer.’ It is not that subject matter expertise and professionalism are not important. They are. But those qualities are merely the price of entry. Lawyers today need to do more. They need to be ‘client’s lawyers.’

Client’s lawyers are true strategic partners. They focus on matter management, providing value-added services, forging strong client relationships.

Inside the law firm, they may not bill the most hours. But they are finding ways to make the work they do more efficient for their clients. Perhaps most significant is that they repeatedly bring in new business from the same clients over and over.

There is no question that the attributes of a ‘lawyer’s lawyer’ are important, but the true rainmakers of the future are those who can manage work effectively and build client relationships. Firms need to stop focusing on hours billed and mere reputation and start looking at the qualities lawyers hold as it relates to building repeatable business from profitable clients. That’s where the talent focus needs to shift.

As the gap between the emerging Global 25 and the rest of the firms widens, firms on the outside looking in need to rethink they way the value their own lawyers. Firms need to look at their partnership criteria and make sure that being a “client’s lawyers” is equal to, if not more important than, being a “lawyer’s lawyer.”

That’s the true point of differentiation.

Posted on July 5, 2011 in Business Development, Law Firm Management

Share the Story

About the Author

Back to Top