Unintended Consequences of Law Firm Business Development

What do you get when you cross a firm unaccustomed to pursuing business strategically with the internal announcement of a major business development initiative?

Answer: Confusion.

Many firm leaders coming out of the economic downturn realize that “random acts of marketing” are not going to see them into the future. They are adopting disciplined marketing and business development plans to grow their businesses.

For lawyers who were trained that business development is a way of life, a firm focus on driving revenues with a disciplined and strategic plan is common sense.

But there is a whole generation of lawyers — associates and young partners — who have spent the bulk of their career billing hours rather than building books of business.

This same group of lawyers has witnessed three years of law firm closures, layoffs and a decline in demand for legal services. It’s understandable that many live in fear of what their future holds.

As a result, an unintended consequence of a new strategic initiative may be that some attorneys actually perceive it as a sign of an underlying problem at the firm.

This shouldn’t deter firm leaders. Rather, it reinforces the need to craft clear messages that don’t assume everyone in the firm immediately understands why change is taking place.

Communication should happen globally and be reinforced in one-to-one communications with individual attorneys on an as needed basis.

An effective communication plan can take time as not everyone embraces change at the same pace. Ultimately, solid communication can clarify understanding and avoid otherwise unintended consequences.

Posted on May 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

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