Myth of the client calculated decision

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  • Sophisticated clients shop around. Unsophisticated clients go to the law firm that their parents used or their predecessor relied upon.

    In my 30 yrs in law the most pronounced example of this effect that I saw was when I to Newcastle and worked for Dickinson Dees. It was the early 2000s and it was clear that the firm had started to stagnate. However the Dickinson Dees client base was so loyal that there was no impact upon fee earning.

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  • If you're happy with the service you are getting, there is no need to shop around for a cheaper law firm or one that has greater expertise.

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  • People buy due to wants & needs, and everyone instructing a law firm will have a different combination of these. Some of this probably is subsconscious but some of it comes down to the personal qualities, wants, fears, idiosynchrasies etc. of whoever within the client's organisation you are dealing with: do they want someone hands-on, someone who will just get on with the work, do they want someone they like working with, do they want someone the board will respect, someone who has a strong understanding of the sector and can make them look good, someone who is just going to focus on the technical legal aspects and let the in-house lawyers, who truly understand the business, deal with those critical commercial/sector issues etc. I've read a few interviews with in-house lawyers on this site and have seen all of these opinions represented, some of which are contradictory.

    I think, ultimately, there are two types of 'brand'. There is the 'corporate brand' which is your logo, your website, your ethos, etc. and the 'personal brand' of what your lawyers are like to work with. The corporate brand is fixed and is what makes people aware of your existence. This is definitely important, if nobody knows who you are they aren't going to instruct you, but it doesn't directly result in new work. That is where personal brand, i.e. what your people are like to work with, comes in to the picture. Because personal brands are about relationships it is you can tailor yourself to each individual you are dealing with, once you understand what it is they want.

    I don't think there is any scientific formula, as like you say, if there was, why wouldn't all clients be using that one firm who had cracked it?

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  • The free pens swings it for me.

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