Exciting Possibilities in Legal Industry Trends for 2021

The first quarter of 2021 is wrapping up and firms are starting to evaluate how to safely get back into the office. It has been a very strange year, but law firms are reporting better than expected results from 2020. Am Law 50 firms saw a 7.5% growth over 2019 with total expenses down by 2.1%. It’s great that we are seeing these kinds of figures, but this doesn’t mean we are out of the woods for new business in 2021. In fact, this year may actually prove more challenging for some when it comes to business development.
I think we can agree that it is very clear how COVID-19 changed the rules, but lawyers very much need to stay in the business development game to see success in their practices. But, where do we need to focus? Here are some anticipated insights into what lawyers should be paying attention to as the year unwinds:
  • Intensify relationship maintenance in order to develop new business.  Due to a very real and proven incumbent advantage, clients are not quite shopping around their legal work unless they are feeling dissatisfied. This means it is more important than ever to nurture existing relationships to keep new business coming in from existing relationships.
  • Increase focus on the client experience. Since clients are closely evaluating the value they receive for their legal dollars. And because of that, it is more important than ever to be sure the client experience is leak proof. The only way to accomplish this is to talk to your clients. Find out what they want, how they want it delivered and follow their lead. It is important to be open minded, working as a member of their advisory team rather than simply telling them what they need to do when a problem arises.
  • Embrace new technologies, methods and approaches to problem solving. If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that reliable and effective technologies are essential. The technologies we employ are not only important to the daily operation of businesses, but also for identifying and embracing future opportunities.
  • Invest in associate and lateral attorney relationships. It is a great time to acquire new talent in law firms. Professionals have had a lot of time to evaluate their personal platforms and I am finding that there is a new appreciation and understanding for what they need to be happy and successful. Firms are presented with a great opportunity to think outside of the typical employment and practice development box.
  • Display a real commitment to addressing important issues. Lawyers and law firms have often been accused of being behind the curve on a number of workplace issues. This is the time to talk with employees about what the organization should be doing to improve our communities. It is time to commit to improving how law firms embrace Diversity, Equality & Inclusion, mental health and work environment flexibility (among other critical topics).

I think we can all agree that this year is going to be a really important one. The legal industry has an opportunity to make some important adjustments and focus energies on things that impact the communities in which we live and work. But it is going to take lot of work and focus. Working with professionals in each of the above mentioned areas will give lawyers and law firms the best possible chance at making progress. But a personal, individualized commitment to prioritizing productive relationships is the best possible foundation for these efforts. Let’s hope that we are coming into a new and improved world– the new Roaring 20’s!

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