Friday, July 29, 2011

The Healthy Law Firm

Getting law firms healthier

I was just working with a managing partner of an AM Law Top 25 firm in DC and I heard him make a reference to his firm that I thought applicable to the legal market as a whole.  He was discussing the ways that they have had to adjust to stay competitive and actually grow the firm in this economy, and he said "It was time to get healthier."

When someone thinks of a phrase like that they begin to think of P90X infomercials, new years resolutions, and second glances at a salad bar rather than the porterhouse. This is why it was interesting the context and what lead to our engagement.

Being competive, he said, involved looking at every aspect of the way they do business and how to control costs while providing the quality of work that the firm's clients expect.

The firm had utilized a LPO in India for discovery and research. They had unfortunately cut staff and a layer of senior associates, counsel, and non-equity partners.  This left them with a gap though.  Clients expected the same quality of service and support and were now playing "bill rate bingo".

They needed specific types of attorneys that would integrate with their firm for a certain period of time to roll on and off work as needed. The needs were specifically in IP and tax.  The attorneys matched the quality of attorney that their firm has been known for, they were able to bill them at more competitive rates, but would pay out a contract fee that enabled them to see higher margins. The period of time is established, but there is flexibility should issues resolve or get extended.

It works for the contract attorneys because it provides them the opportunity to do the work that they enjoy without the stress that partnership brings.  It provides flexibility to ramp up or down quickly in certain practice areas while meeting their clients needs and staying competitive.  In addition, Wilcox and Hackett worked with the firm to create a quick onboarding training for contract attorneys so that they understood their roles and policies of the firm.

Would you like to have a confidential discussion about how your firm can become healthier and more nimble in this environment?  Call or email me at:, 850-893-8984