When I’m not talking to clients, thinking up business strategies and solving the mysteries of geo-political trade, I’m usually reading some management literature or researching something related to the mind, management/leadership, marketing, or money-getting (finance/fundraising) and money management.
After some initial work following up with a client for whom I designed a data-driven go-to-market strategy, and then writing up 2 articles for my business consulting website, I jumped directly into some material that had been on my research wishlist for a while:
Professional services management as it applies to Law firm management contexts.
My research took me to websites, journal articles, blog posts, and legal practice newsletter archives all over the internet. (Phew!!!)
Among the interesting topic areas I defined and searched for were:
- Evidence of business model innovation in law firm strategy
- Hourly billing vs Value Based / Fixed Fee Legal Pricing
- Small Team Leadership
- Project Leadership
- Strategic Leadership Issues in Law Firms
- Practice Groups (PGs): Trends & Issues faced by Practice Leaders
- Professional Services Management & Strategy
In the inaugural (summer 2006) issue of “InnovAction” online magazine, I came across David Maister’s article featuring the story of Christopher Marston, then 29 years old, and his innovative law firm startup, Exemplar Law.
This excellent article, entitled, “The Courage To Innovate”, is a mini-course in business differentiation that counts. Contrary to the prevailing wisdom among law firms, this young man has built a law firm with a decidedly differentiated business model.
Among some of the differences:
- Abandoning the much-despised “hourly billing” for “fixed price” pricing.
- Attorney recruitment & selection strategies emphasizing business education or industry experience.
- Rather egalitarian organizational culture
- A satisfaction guarantee
- Compensation structure featuring profit-sharing & equity participation regardless of attorney experience level, etc.
I highly recommend this article for anyone interested in professional services management, business differentiation, or business model innovation.
First, ANYTHING written by David Maister (article, blog post, etc) is a must-read for independent service professionals or consultants.
Secondly, despite the fact that this article was written in 2006, it is evergreen. It is not outdated in anyway… the issues addressed are still issues - both in law firm management & strategy, and in the broader domain of knowledge businesses.
However, just to make sure, I visited the Exemplar Website and poked around a bit. It turns out they’re still in business, and seem to have expanded to over 35 employees (from the original 9) back then.
Law Firm Marketing
I’ve never had a law firm client (although I’ve had an attorney as a client, but his businesses are not law firms). Virtually 90% of my research over the last 90 days has centered on the needs of the modern law firm and CPA practice,as well as the strategic issues facing solo and small practices as well as individual accountants and attorneys in today’s market environment.
I’m trying to weigh whether or not to develop and market specialized marketing and business development solutions to the needs of these 2 categories of professionals at this time.
A secondary benefit of all this research is that I get to consume (inhale?) the work of some of the best and brightest minds in business, and consider additional ideas for transforming our business model, service programs and operational processes at Idea Age Consulting.
Among the “must return to visit” thought leaders I’ve come across, few have impressed me more than the work of Suzanne Lowe at Expertise Marketing, Bruce W. Marcus and his “"Marcus Letters", the thought leadership marketing practice of the Bloom Group, … and the brilliant insights on practice groups as shared by Patrick J. Mckenna of Edge International.
These have all become my teachers (whether they know it, like it, or not :)).
One of the leadership frameworks I’ve been working on the past few months has to do with 3 circles of leadership, seen through a management perspective. Patrick McKenna’s work provides much appreciated “nourishment” to these 3 circles:
- Small Group / Project Leadership
- Strategic & Organizational Leadership
I hope to complete a course that I’ve been developing on this 3-circle framework, and have been putting in a lot of work toward that purpose. I’d appreciate it if you have questions on leadership you’d like me to ask (the experts), research, or otherwise help answer.
Till next time,
P.s. Also forgot to add my “graphic facilitation mentors” at Alphachimp.
P.s.s. Sign up for my FREE “Commonsensical Business Differentiation” Webinar Video Replay, to help your business stand out.