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    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. The message is clear: clients stick with firms able to help them meet their goals. These new core firms are taking a lead role in assessing cases early and recommending settlement strategies. In short, these firms are engaged to the point where other law firms can’t get their foot in the door. By helping clients in the assessment and settlement stages, these proactive firms have the litigation work before any other firm hears about it.

    Corporate counsel expect another jump in the number of litigation cases for 2015—it’s a perfect time to define a process of regular and systematic litigation triage so you are at the head of the line.

    BTI Litigation Outlook 2015 is your tool to use today’s market trends and corporate counsel demands to win more clients, more business, and higher rates.

    [1] Based on BTI research conducted between March 2014 and September 2014. BTI conducted more than 300 independent, individual interviews with CLOs and General Counsel at Fortune 1000 companies and large organizations. This new research is available now in the just-released BTI Litigation Outlook 2015


    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?

    Let’s face it, The Mad Clientist has been telling you to talk to your clients for years.  Yet it’s not as easy as it sounds. Maybe your client is skeptical and hesitant to set up this meeting. Or maybe you just don’t know how to broach the subject.

    The Game Plan

    1. Before you reach out to the client, have something important to tell them.
      Tell your clients you want to share how your top companies in the (fill in the blank for your client) industry are closing out year-end issues and getting a jump on 2015—you know what these companies are doing—if you’re not sure, discuss these issues with your partners and you  can all be prepared to have these conversations with your clients.

    2. Get in touch
      We have thousands of excuses of why there’s not enough time to contact a client outside of the current work we are handling. But I recommend not waiting until your current work is over to focus on business development…

    3. Make it about the client
      “Ms. Important Client, I’d like to come out there within the next week—no charge, naturally—to share insights from peer companies on how to get out of the budget mire and be ready for the new year.”

      There is a clear benefit to the client to set up a meeting with you. This isn’t a sales call. You are helping the client tackle a real issue. Remember, we can’t develop business without getting in the door…we need to get in the door.

    4. Provide value, then seamlessly mine for data
      Come armed with pointed, specific suggestions and a summary of issues your client faces at year-end. Wrap up your discussion by asking the client how this will impact the company’s current goals and changing business strategy. This is your seamless segue into a conversation about:
    5. a.  Their plans
      b.  Any issues which need to be addressed before the year is out
      c.  Preliminary objectives
      d.  Anticipated challenges or obstacles
      e.  Management initiatives
      f.   Nature and extent of management pressures
      g.  How and why they are bringing work in-house
      h.  New products and plans
      i.   Probe as to where your client needs the most help
      j.   Where does your client think you and your firm can help

    6. Follow-up or it’s all for naught
      Offer specific and concrete steps to help your client meet their objectives including tools like checklists developed with your partners to show depth and add value while you introduce new partners to the relationship.

    Don’t wait. Talk to your clients now. Early fall is an especially good time for a conversation about how to end with all your client’s goals for the year wrapped up—and begin to plan for next year. Now is the time to add perspective to help your clients with their final feedback on their budgets and goals, and help them get what they need for next year.

    Your clients will only plan with one outside law firm so we suggest you ask your client for a meeting sooner rather than later. The market offers few sources of new business. Lucky for you: the answer is right in front of you.

    We believe talking to your client is so important, we welcome our clients and readers to call or email The Mad Clientist and we will be happy to talk through your specific situation to help you get things started.




    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:

    • Regulatory
    • M&A
    • Securities
    • Corporate Governance
    • IP/Patent/Trademark
    • Contract

    Growth in internal departments for the third straight year points to a pervasive trend rather than an idle experiment. Value conscious General Counsel have increasing access to high quality talent—mostly due to today’s job market where many law firm partners make the jump to in-house counsel. Bringing this talent in-house is seen as higher value and more cost effective than using outside counsel.

    Despite the lag in growth for outside counsel spending, savvy law firms can use this trend to their advantage.

    Most law firms are focused on recouping lost dollars through ramped up business development and new strategic initiatives. A handful of firms are taking a client-focused approach and helping clients bring work in-house. These firms are building a better understanding of their clients’ business and positioning their firm to win coveted new work.

    General Counsel have identified 3 approaches law firms can take to secure their position on their client’s core roster:

    1. Training in-house resources in routine tasks and case assessment
    2. Facilitate knowledge transfer by granting clients access to research tools and other support systems not typically found in the corporate legal department
    3. Providing long-term staff assignments to fill missing talent gaps

    The ultimate winners make every trend work to their advantage—this is no exception. 


    [1] Based on BTI research conducted between March 2014 and September 2014. BTI conducted more than 300 independent, individual interviews with CLOs and General Counsel at Fortune 1000 companies and large organizations. This new research will be available in the upcoming BTI Corporate Legal Spending Outlook 2015, scheduled for release in October 2014. 



    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 ...


    Law Firm Discounts Defy the Laws of Physics


    To see exactly where your firm's rates compare to what clients are paying in BTI's Billing Rate Reference 2014, visit:


    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Profitable AFAs

    Far out at the edges of unchartered space exists the mostly uninhabited planet of Profitable AFAs.

    This isn’t science fiction comedy. Profitable AFAs do, in fact, exist. We partnered with our friends at Law360 to survey more than 750 attorneys. What we discovered is 22% of partners are prospering in what many consider a desolate land.



    AFAs are old news. Clients demanding AFAs is old news. Turning a clear profit from AFAs is new.

    Click to read more ...


    Press 1 If You Are in a Legal Crisis, Press 2 If Your Matter Has Billings in the 7 Figures

    The Mad Clientist: How many true emergency, ‘I need help right now,’ phone calls does your firm get in a year? 1, 2, 5?

    Law Firm Leader: There are at least a dozen I can name off the top of my head…maybe 15.

    The Mad Clientist: So, once a month?

    Law Firm Leader: Yes, definitely, if not more.

    The Mad Clientist: How much do these crisis calls generate in fees?

    Law Firm Leader: It depends. Some are not really crises so they don’t generate much, but about half become multi-hundred thousand dollar billings, and at least one or two become multimillion dollar fees.


    We all want the juicy bet-the-company work. We savor the challenge, the prestige, and the opportunity to make an impact—and a profit. But are we prepared to get the work? I know you have the resources and the talent, but are you prepared for when you get the call? Yes—the actual call for help.  

    Click to read more ...


    How to Stand Out in a Crowded Tank

    Anna, about 3, immediately pulled Mom by the hand over to the lobster tank asking in a loud excited voice: “Where’s Larry?! Where’s Larry?!” as she approached the lobster tank at Captain Marden’s in Wellesley, MA.

    Mom asked Steve, the man behind the counter, if he could take a moment and see if he could find Larry.

    Steve grabbed the lobster rake and combed through the lobsters, at least a hundred of the little creatures. “I see him,” he told Anna, “it’ll just be a minute now.” You could see the rake being maneuvered with great intention to be sure to track down not just any lobster—but Larry the Lobster.

    Click to read more ...