How Does Your Law Firm Measure Up Against Your Competition?

Competition between law practices really means how you differentiate your firm from other law practices in the same area of expertise. Unlike sports where a sprinter is either faster and stronger, both need the same skills doing the same thing. One may have a different style, but ultimately it’s who reaches the finish line faster.

For lawyers in the same field, clients are looking for some similar attributes in terms of a successful outcome, but more than that, they are looking for a lawyer who listens to them, offers a unique service and has a reputation for representing clients well.

Thus, one of the most critical elements of a law firm is establishing key practice areas that are unique to your practice. What is it about your firm, its approach to lawyering and how you deliver your service that differentiates it from your competition? There are many other quality firms in your community so you must decide how you want to build your practice to make clients want to choose you instead.

How to develop your plan

Begin with assessing your business plan. The key to creating an effective firm begins with looking at your individual and collective skills and keen areas of interest. As in all professions, practitioners often find something they are more enthusiastic in exploring more than others.

This first attempt to evaluate the firm’s skills is critically important. It is the bedrock of your marketing platform on how you go forward to differentiate your business and built your platform.

You already know the competition is stiff. Success or failure depends on the thoroughness of your investigation of your competition and your analysis of your practice.

Begin your analysis by answering these questions:

What are your group’s specialties as compared to the competition?
What are the services your group/practice offers?
What positive or negative trends are affecting these services today?
Who is your closest competition?
Your answers to these important questions can become a key element in your annual marketing plan.

Measure the competition

When scrutinizing the competition, be sure to look closely at every segment of the firm. Take it apart, piece by piece. Examine their website, research the partners (or the sole practitioner), office location, published papers and where the firm networks.

Only when you fully disassemble a competitors practice can you begin to understand who they are and what you have to offer that is different. After evaluating the competition carefully, determine how you can improve your own service levels and market visibility. Maintain a proactive weekly or monthly watch on competitor press clippings, websites and promotional events to keep your own services current and competitive.

It is important that you are qualified and believe in yourself as a top tier lawyer, but that is not what will persuade a client to choose you.

You want your practice differentiator to be known, not discovered.

Here are three questions you should use when you examine your competitors:

Who are the top 5 firms and how do they get their business?
What areas of coverage are missing in the market?
How are you successful when competing with other firms in your area of expertise?

If you are truly interested in specializing in a certain industry, you want to be sure you have the people or background that will add credibility to the practice. For example, if you have an engineering and technology and want to represent clients in intellectual property cases, you will want to have some background in the technology sector. For medical malpractice, a former physician who has chosen to get law degree is an expert at examining medical cases that have gone wrong.

These are selling points that can distinguish your firm from others.

Why you? Query your clients

Another way to explore your standing in the legal community is to ask your clients about their process in choosing you to represent them. Find out what the characteristics were to distinguish your law firm from others. Inquire about the details they may have used when comparing lawyers. Try to get as much clarifying information as possible. Part of this exercise is knowing you can deliver to your client what they are looking for.

They came to you for a reason.

For some clients, it will be a difficult question to answer. It could be something as vague as a comment that connected with the client. Don’t push too hard and make the client uncomfortable. The reason could be something about your expertise that the client may not be able to answer.

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