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    To Boldly Grow Where No Legal Market Has Grown Before

    You can find opportunity in every market—up, down or flat—the only question is which of the many strategies will work. The legal market has reached the point where each market opportunity demands a different strategy. BTI’s new research, based on 330 interviews with corporate counsel, reveals corporate counsel have hit the reset button. New spending is now popping up as new priorities and new trends (the good and the bad) take hold.

    1. To Grow Where No Legal Market Has Grown Before
      After shrinking in 2013, the US market for outside counsel services grows in 2014. And the good news continues: this is expected to last through 2015. Expect growth for all but 2 practice areas. Corporate counsel tell us they are planning to increase spending in 15 of 17 practice areas; sparking growth (admittedly some will grow imperceptibly) in 2015. The 2 noted exceptions: real estate and litigation will see declines. However, 8 practices are considered to offer above-average market growth and access to premium rates.

      Cybersecurity/Data Privacy emerges as a major market opportunity with spending on cybersecurity-related issues crossing the billion-dollar threshold. This quickly growing area promises 2 to 4 mega-cases each year and an abundance of large, complex matters.

      Strategy impact: The gateway for law firms looking to capture clients’ big-ticket spending is through smaller assignments focused on assessing risk and compliance. Be prepared to provide a side of counseling while you work for the larger matter.

    2. The Localization of Global Work
      Global organizations continue to increase their US legal spending. Companies based outside the US are in growth mode providing a steady stream of transactions, labor and employment issues, regulatory conflicts, and strategic IP issues—all originating in the US legal market. More than 50% of the law firms serving these clients are outside the AmLaw 50.

      Strategy impact: Come armed to discuss the business implications (more so than the legal consequences) their organization can expect.

    3. Litigation’s Glory Days Are Gone
    4. 3 years of litigation spending declines and another on the way for 2015. Corporate counsel are committed to reducing their litigation spending—and dockets. Resolution rates (settlements) are soaring. Work is starting to move in-house while organizations cut the number of bet-the-company matters. 

      Strategy impact: To capture volume in the face of declining spending (and be positioned to win the major bet-the-company work when it arises), think about the litigation market in terms of early triage, smart staffing, and creative fee structures.

    Reset markets—those with shifting patterns—offer advantages to law firms with more market-centric approaches. Firms with their finger on the pulse of the market have already started to change their strategies. Other firms will hit their own reset button and try to leap frog competitors.  

    Click below for more highlights from the brand new Legal Spending Outlook 2015.


    Better. Stronger. Faster. Building the Bionic Practice Leader.

    We have the technology. We can build a better Practice Leader.

    Practice Leaders serve as the front line in driving growth. They are the first set of feet on the ground—developing your markets, client relationships, and the people in your firm. Yet law firms tell us they frequently struggle with finding the right Practice Leaders. The difficulty lies in knowing whether someone can deliver results and inspire others to do the same.

    Most firms believe the strongest Practice Leaders were destined for their rock star status; attributing success to intangible qualities like charisma, determination, or intelligence. But BTI’s research shows the Practice Leaders consistently delivering outsized results share 3 traits.

    1. Extraordinarily present

      The best leaders are never distracted or too busy. Clients, partners, and staff are convinced they have 110% of the Practice Leaders undivided attention. Mobile devices aren’t checked, there are no glances to their watches, and they do not interrupt your conversation to talk to someone else. Nothing else exists except you and your task at hand.

    3. Build consensus to drive action

      Hours, days, even months can be wasted in trying to find the root cause of a problem or obstacle—and even more time is lost in developing the perfect solution. The highest performers don’t analyze a problem to its core. They quickly and succinctly identify problems to get everyone focused on the solution. The strongest Practice Leaders solicit input from their partners on proposed solutions and build consensus around the actions to drive performance. This approach drives enthusiasm and energy around action—not intellectual understanding.

    5. Decide and act quickly 

      Standout practice leaders are more comfortable making decisions with less information than others. Not every angle needs to be examined before an informed decision can be made. Much like clients complain about padding the bill with research hours, leaders can spend valuable time analyzing instead of acting. Strong Practice Leaders act swiftly and clearly communicate decisions to act. They also are the first to change course if new information demands a different course of action.

    The message: stop looking for leaders and build one.

    Leaders are made—not born. Once they understand the approaches and principles to drive success, Practice Leaders can transform and enhance an entire firm.


    Get the tools to build your own bionic Practice Leaders with the upcoming BTI Legal Spending Outlook 2015: Your guide to targeting the best opportunities in 17 practice areas. Order now.


    The 7 Deadly Sins of Strategic Planning

    Business strategy can drive stellar performance. But, leaders of professional services firms tell BTI the planning process is often constraining, restrictive, and frustrating. Some see it as glorified budgeting and others describe it as “a millstone hanging around my neck.”

    Strategic plans range from elaborate, formal, lengthy processes with large written documents to short, focused meetings outlining yearly objectives. No matter the format or approach, the goal is the same: find a direction for the firm to drive growth and sustain success. But each year, 72% of strategic plans fall short.

    Working closely with professional services firms for 25 years has shown us success comes in many forms and the strategies are as unique as the firms adopting them. But the failures are universal and provide important lessons for every firm.

    In this 7-part series, we discuss the 7 Deadly Sins of Strategic Planning.

    Variety may be the spice of life, but variety will suck the life out of any strategy.

    Click to read more ...


    The 4 Most Feared Litigation Firms and 6 Firms They Fear

    We have nothing to fear, except the Fearsome Foursome. 4 law firms have the striking ability to make opponents take pause; wondering if moving forward is worth the fight. Clients change their litigation strategies before a case starts when they know they will face any one of the Fearsome Foursome. These firms strike fear in clients—and law firms alike—when seen on the other side.

    There are more differences than similarities between each of the 4 firms bestowed this honor by corporate counsel, but 3 characteristics are present throughout:

    1. Execution. Much is made of the innovative, no-holds-barred litigation strategies law firms discuss, but client say few firms are effective at turning a strategy into reality. Each of the Fearsome Foursome instills fear by having the wits to formulate strategies and the will to make them happen.
    2. Commitment. These firms are all in. The Fearsome Foursome firms demonstrate an unbridled commitment to act in their clients’ interest. Opponents know the other side is ready to bring down the entire firm on this one case—in fact, a Fearsome Foursome firm is eager to do so.
    3. AGGRESSIVE. Assertive, dogmatic or domineering. Word choice typically depends on which side of the table a Fearsome Foursome firm is sitting. The outcome is the same: these firms will take risks other firms don’t.


    The 2015 Fearsome Foursome firms are: 

    Jones Day
    Kirkland & Ellis
    Quinn Emanuel


    Click to read more ...


    60% of Clients Replaced a Core Litigation Firm—The Law Firm Purge Has Begun

    BTI’s just completed research[1] with over 300 General Counsel finds two trends driving how the litigation market will unfold in 2015:

    1. Bet-the-company matters have dropped by 50%. 
      Aggressive settlement strategies and heightened focus on case elimination—not trial—sparks a 50% decline in bet-the-company matters over the past 2 years. Now clients are chipping away at the complex work as well, with the number of complex matters declining approximately 9%. Long-term, BTI expects these numbers will creep back up; short-term, clients are improving management of complex matters.

    2. Fully 60% of corporate counsel replaced at least one core litigation firm in the last 18 months.
      In their push to resolve and eliminate litigation, clients upend their roster of litigation law firms.
    • Work reassigned to a new core firm able to provide:

    – Faster turn-around times
    – More innovative approaches
    – Better client service
    – Systematic approaches to:

    - Settlements
    - Early case assessment
    - A sense of flexibility in approaching rates and fees

    • Institutional knowledge concentrated between fewer firms to promote streamlined approaches to case management

    Point 2 above is helping deliver point 1. 

    The law firms winning new work are now winning a greater portion of work than in prior years.

    Click to read more ...


    Business Development Lessons from Hannibal Lecter

    The answer is right in front of you...”

    —Hannibal Lecter to Clarice Starling, FBI Trainee, in The Silence of the Lambs

    The key to new business is right in front of you. The typical law firm has about 23% of the business they could be getting from a top client. But, the real mind bender here is the number of General Counsel I interview who say:

    “Don’t they want more business from us? They sure don’t seem to.”

    “They [my primary law firm] never pitch me or introduce me to other partners or practices—and I’m trying to work with a lot fewer law firms. Frankly it’s frustrating.”

    New business is sitting there, right in front of you, to grab while the getting is still good. You can go from capturing 23% to 75% of the work available to you by taking advantage of a single proven, powerful tool: Talk to your clients, and talk to your clients now.

    But how?

    Click to read more ...


    Corporate Counsel Shift Another $1.1 Billion In-House

    BTI’s first look at legal spending for 2014 and 2015 shows corporate counsel continue on a 3-year path of bringing work in-house. Larger companies, with $1 billion or more in revenue, are on track to move another $1.1 billion in legal spending in-house.[1] This is on top of the $5.8 billion corporate counsel moved in-house in 2013.

    In-house spending appears to be the new growth market. As reported earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal58% of companies report making the shift in-house, up from only 50% of companies last year. The work moving in-house includes:

    Click to read more ...


    Clients Demand More, Get More: Happiest with Law Firms in 3 Years

    Client investment—both financial and emotional—in law firms jumps after a 3-year decline. In 2014, 40.1% of corporate counsel recommend their primary law firm to a peer, up from 31.4% in 2013. Increasing client investment can be good or bad news—it all depends on whether or not your client is investing in your firm.  

    Corporate counsel are taking the time to better articulate their expectations of law firms and working harder to ensure their law firm understands. BTI’s newest research shows law firms are listening—and acting.

    High-performing law firms are stepping up to meet the challenging demands laid out by clients. These firms are enjoying quantum leaps (6% to 11% higher growth) in performance and earning more business than before. Clients say the firms they use and recommend to others are focusing on 3 core demands:

    Click to read more ...


    It was 25 Years Ago Today...


    How to CYA (Cover Your Achilles) Before You Ever Need To

    Achilles, the Greek war hero, struck down by a strategically targeted arrow.

    It only took a single vulnerability to topple the seemingly invincible.

    In his death, the mighty Achilles taught us a valuable lesson: do not simply rely on your strengths; know your vulnerabilities and take great care to not let them be your downfall.

    Like Achilles—despite great strength and skill—every law firm is vulnerable. Firms ignoring the woeful tale of Achilles are at risk. However, recognizing potential vulnerabilities gives you the opportunity to fend them off.

    BTI spoke with more than 330 corporate counsel and discovered even strong relationships suffer from 1 of 3 potentially fatal weaknesses:

    Click to read more ...