Yesterday I heard a presentation from a well-known legal consulting group about the state of the legal market for 2011. This is part of an annual road-show they take to different cities to talk about the legal market in general and any distinctions in the local market. Although there were no big surprises in the presentation, they confirmed and exposed some nuances in the market. A point clearly made is that although the market is no longer going down, it’s not really going up much. In English this means the market has flattened out.
A follow-on point is that the only way to grow, and in many cases maintain your position in a flat market is to steal work from your competitors.
Later on a third point was made by showing a wheel of differentiators law firms possess. There were seven ways shown that a firm can differentiate itself in order to get, keep or steal business. These are pretty much what you would expect: expertise, geography, relationships, technology …. Number seven on the wheel is Price. A quick assessment of the firms in attendance at the presentation (and in the market) lead me to believe the only real existing differentiator is #7 - Price.
Spinning the wheel and connecting these three dots leads us to the following conclusion: Expect heavy price competition in the legal market for the coming year(s).
Oh yeah – they also suggested a different business structure if firms want to survive in this type of market.