Moneyball and the Law: Understanding the market

Part 3 of a 5-part series

By Debra Baker

“I do not start with the numbers any more than a mechanic starts with a monkey wrench. I start with the game, with the things that I see there and the things that people say there. And I ask:Is it true? Can you validate it? Can you measure it? How does it fit with the rest of the machinery? “

– Bill James, 1985 Baseball Abstract, as quoted in Moneyball by Michael Lewis

Understanding the client base of a given market is akin to fielding a team based on the totality of circumstances — the opponent, the stadium, the talent pool.

Legal Vertical Strategies analyzes the legal landscape from three perspectives: Demand, Client Base, Competition. Each has its own set of measures that provide insight into the overall market. The second perspective, Client Base, provides insight into the mix of legal needs that exist and how decisions about who to hire are made.

Buyers of legal services vary based on size, market reach and relative sophistication. Legal needs range from day-to-day matters – perceived as part of the cost of doing business – to high-risk, premium matters where price plays little, if any, role in who gets hired. The larger an organization, the more complex the legal needs are likely to be. The buyer profile of a given market, therefore, provides insight into the value (cost) of different types of legal needs and the decision-making process for selecting who to hire.

In general, businesses can be categorized into four clusters: Multi-nationals, Large Companies, Medium-sized Companies, and Small Companies. Combined with an analysis of market demand, insight into the client base of a given market provides informs decisions about:

  1. What clients to target;
  2. How to reach decision-makers and key influencers;
  3. How to focus marketing and business development resources around the highest value opportunities;
  4. Projecting revenue and developing creative pricing strategies.

Lawyers and law firms should evaluate how much of their client mix is dependent on clients in this region and ensure that growth strategies take into consideration the nature of work this client base has and how these clients make decisions.

Posted on April 5, 2012 in Business Development, Law Firm Management, Marketing, Practice Group Development

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