Elephant Post: You're Not a Law Firm; You're A _______ That Sells Legal Services

When Gerry Oginski wrote a post entitled "You're Not a Law Firm; You're a Marketing Firm That Happens to Sell Legal Services," he hit a nerve with a number of people. Judging by the comments that were left on Oginski's post, I'd say that you either believe that, or you think it is the dumbest statement ever made. We gave everyone a chance to chime in and say what they think the true nature of what a law firm does besides sell legal services.
Thanks to the responders this week (with Thanksgiving in the mix, we waited until Monday to post the answers… plus, I was on vacation and didn't want to disturb the great time I was having in Colorado!)

This also brings the Elephant Post series to an end. With around 70 total posts, we've heard from a lot of you on many different issues. We may bring back the Elephant from time to time when we have an important question that we would like to ask and get many perspectives on. The best thing about the Elephant Posts hasn't been the questions we've asked, but rather the answers we got back from all of you. Thanks for all of you that have shared your perspectives over the past 18 months.

UPS Attorney*
You're Not A Law Firm; You're A Counseling Operation That Sells Legal Services

Let me kick this off with an example of what UPS did when confronted with how to look at what they do in a different way, and as a result, make themselves better. If you have watched a UPS commercial in the past 5 or so years, you'll notice that they call themselves a "Logistics" company rather than a delivery company. By focusing on the logistics of what it takes to move something from point A to point B in a way that enables companies to become "just in time" operations, then UPS becomes an integral part of that process.   Perhaps one of the things that a law firm could look at is its "Counseling" function and focus on remember that by being more pro-active in the upfront counseling clients on how to stay out of potential litigation traps, then we become a more valuable part of our client's operations. Therefore, I think that we are not law firms, but rather we are "counselors" that sell legal services to those that we have established relationships with.
*I'm not really an attorney with UPS

Steven B. Levy
Author of Legal Project Management
You're Not A Law Firm; You're A Business Support Organization That Sells Legal Services

Clients by and large have business problems disguised as legal problems. They're looking for ways to sell more of their products and improve their profit and revenue streams. How can you help? Talk to them in their language and see the problems through their eyes.

Bookmark and Share


Rosalie Kramm said...

Putting yourself in your client's shoes is the best way to create value and new business. If a businessperson/lawyer can anticipate what their clients need and be proactive in solving their problems/issues (counseling), the cient will be forever grateful.

Jerome Kowalski said...

The fact is that while nobody was paying attention, a host of unregulated and unlicensed providers of legal services, owned by non-lawyers, in the form of legal project outsourcing companies ( http://kowalskiandassociatesblog.com/2011/06/21/grabbing-slices-of-the-diminishing-legal-spend-pie-legal-project-outsourcing-downsourcing-and-insourcing/ ) and Internet based providers of legal servicers have already taken significant market share and are actively providing legal services. These providers are apparently not licensed by any U.S. bar. See, http://kowalskiandassociatesblog.com/2011/08/11/are-law-firms-going-to-be-replaced-by-internet-based-providers-of-legal-services/

These are all ________’s that sell legal services.

The ones to really watch out for are the LPO’s. They not only sell legal services, they provide logistics. (http://kowalskiandassociatesblog.com/2011/10/12/lpo%e2%80%99s-have-become-legal-project-outplacement-firms-they-are-outplacing-legal-work-from-traditional-law-firms/)

Gerry Oginski said...

The point to be made is that we lawyers tend to be full of ourselves. We believe that as "attorneys" we command respect with the public. That's nonsense. The public perceives lawyers as a necessary evil no matter how good we are at what we do.

'Old school' lawyers refuse to accept the fact that lawyers market and advertise. It is beneath them. They rely simply on word-of-mouth referrals.

The reality is that most lawyers today need to advertise in some fashion; not only to earn a living but to stand out from the crowd of sameness.

That's why having a different perspective on what you do will help you stand out from the crowd. If all you are is a 'lawyer' then you're just like every other lawyer out there; average.

However, if you are a marketer who happens to sell legal services, now you're a creative who has something slightly different to offer. You've wrapped yourself in a different package and made yourself more attractive.

The same can be true for any trade or profession.

Gerry Oginski


© 2014, All Rights Reserved.