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Six characteristics of successful law firms - Establishing a winning culture that drives growth article image

Six characteristics of successful law firms - Establishing a winning culture that drives growth

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Successful law firms grow and prosper. They have a winning culture that delivers exceptional service to clients and drives them forward. But what are the key characteristics of that culture? Here are my top six, based on my discussions with senior partners over the years:

1. Talent management

Fundamentally law firms sell specialist knowledge and expertise. So it makes sense to recruit the best talent because top talent attracts quality clients and the most interesting work. But that’s only the start. Successful firms put in place the working environment, remuneration and incentives that enable them to retain their high flyers.

2. Business knowledge

Clients value firms that can marry business understanding with legal advice and so deliver better outcomes – which is perhaps why there is a growing trend of sending leading partners on high-level business courses. As experts in specific business areas and sectors, fee earners are better able to proactively pre-empt issues for clients, add more value and strengthen relationships – rather than act reactively.

3. Succession planning

When a senior partner leaves or retires, it can have a devastating impact on the business, if all the relationships they have carefully built over the years are suddenly lost. Successful firms have plans in place to safeguard and preserve those relationships with clients. By working collaboratively and identifying risks to the firm, partners can ensure succession plans are smooth while maintaining the highest levels of service.  

4. Collaboration

Whose job is it to manage clients? Successful firms know it is everyone’s job, that every touch point is an opportunity to add value. And they know that the more services they can offer clients, the more loyal they are likely to be. With a culture of collaboration, firms not only strengthen client relationships, they also open the door for fee earners to get involved in more interesting and challenging matters, such as cross-border, multi-jurisdictional deals.

5. Business development

Just as everyone is involved with managing existing clients, everyone is involved in business development at the most successful firms. Fee earners and business development professionals respect each other’s skills and knowledge and pool them to grow the business. Firms that don’t adopt a winning culture like this risk endangering existing revenue and missing out on new opportunities.

6. Clear focus

At the most successful firms, marketing and business development don’t take a scatter-gun approach; their efforts are based on a clear understanding of the sectors the firm wants to target. The same goes for their recruitment and personnel development strategies. Everything the firm does is focused on how best to achieve the organisation’s growth objectives. 

In my experience, firms that have a culture that incorporates these six elements tend to be leaders in their particular area. They have also taken the time and trouble to invest in efficient processes and systems that support these activities. And typically, at the heart of their investment is a comprehensive CRM system that helps them coordinate their relationship building and new business development activities to grow the organisation.

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