Law Firm Articles

Managing Your Portfolio of Practices with a New Level of Strategic Planning

In the new legal economy, market maturation is driving accelerated practice segmentation – i.e., the degree of difference between and within practice areas.  One of the keys to managing a successful law firm going forward will be the ability to effectively analyze and strategize for a diverse practice mix operating under a single law firm umbrella.

Most law firms, whether large, mid-sized or small, have diverse practices:  business and corporate, transactional and ongoing, real estate, estate planning, business litigation and possibly, insurance defense or plaintiffs litigation. These broad categories are typically further delineated by practice and vertical market distinctions, such as banking, utilities and energy, natural resources and environmental, public and closely held businesses, wealth planning and ERISA, employment law, contracts, and the broad and deep array of dispute resolution and litigation.

With the ongoing segmentation of the market for legal services—in fact, markets  is more accurate—the differences between practice areas become more pronounced, not only in terms of legal issues, but as businesses and economic entities.  Operating a commercial litigation practice is dramatically different than insurance defense, personal injury plaintiffs or commercial plaintiffs practices.  Significant variables include: the clients and client segments served; the propensity, frequency and patterns of consumption; price elasticity, pricing and billing methods; types of marketing and business development; client service models; use of lawyers, paralegals and others; use of technology; profit drivers and profitability; and the list goes on.

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Jim Wilber has placed hundreds of law firm executives and business managers over two decades. He advises law firms on administrative structure, management and leadership and is a former practicing lawyer and law office manager.

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