“Change the menu.” That’s part of the recommendation Jay Ehret (The Marketing Spot) gave his client, Eddie’s Trackside Bar & Grill. What would you do with that advice? What’s on your menu, and how does it appeal to your clients and potential clients? How could you change it?
It’s not hard to see the lists of services / practices / experience / skills at many law firms as menus, naming anything and everything you can find in the kitchen (a high-end kitchen that doesn’t list prices on the menu, mind you):
“How’s the cross-border acquisition today? Good? Excellent, I’ll go with that then, an acquisition in the chemicals industry in Brazil. Can I swap out the acquisition finance for a side of your labor, FCPA, and tax medley? Yes, it does look very good....”
What if your menu wasn’t a list of every type of deal you’ve structured, every type of client you’ve represented, every type of dispute you’ve worked on? What if you didn’t list facts and figures, but told stories about how your work helped your client meet its business objectives? What would your menu look like if it were written for the client, not for your lawyers?
It’s clear that the legal profession is going through profound changes in the current economy. More than ever, clients must evaluate the legal services they get through filters of “value” and “service,” and reward only those firms that provide long-term business solutions, not short-term legal fixes. It will be hard for lawyers and firms to change the way they do business, to change the way they value and charge for their services, to change the way they determine success or failure as a function of their client’s business results.
Why not let your menu be the first thing you change? It won’t be an easy change to make. It won't be the hardest, though, and it just might make some of the other changes less difficult. How do you think your client will react when she doesn't hear, “Hire us because we have significant experience in a broad range of public and private M&A transactions of all sizes in jurisdictions around the world”? When you ask instead, “What's the problem, and how can I make it go away?”
Why don’t you find out? I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the result.