You have to be good to worry about fee rates

Mid-market firms fret about their image, while the elite focus on pricing

Nobody can quite agree on what ‘brand’ actually means, but everyone knows it is important. Indeed, research into leading law firms’ business challenges shows  the mid-market is nervous about it.

A survey of 313 partners, finance bods and business development directors at The Lawyer’s top 100 UK firms by revenue, carried out by reputation manager Eulogy, shows  51 per cent in the 61-100 range see brand differentiation as their biggest challenge this year, compared with an average of 41 per cent across the 100.

Elite firms are less concerned about this and more about what happens once the client is through the door. In the top 10, 60 per cent said pricing was the greatest challenge compared with 58 per cent in the 11-30 band, 52 in the 31-60 and 41 in the bottom 40. Across the 100, pricing was the top challenge for 53 per cent.

Source: Eulogy
Source: Eulogy

In each of the bands at least 93 per cent chose one of these two things as their biggest challenge.

All this indicates that the elite, who already have clients, are able to focus on nitty-gritty issues like pricing, while the rest are simply concerned about getting clients through the door before putting  their minds to other things.

“The figures suggest the top 10 are focused on pricing and less concerned about brand, as they’re already established in their target markets,” says David Flynn, head of professional services at Eulogy. “While this is the case for some outside the top 10, many understand they need to do more to differentiate themselves in a competitive market.”

Across the top 100, 35 per cent are planning to offer fixed fees in most new pitches.

What Eulogy did not do was define ‘brand’ on respondees’ behalf as, by its nature, the term is open to interpretation.

The group is also working on a project to crown the UK’s most influential law firm. If the question of ‘brand’ gets lawyers hot under the collar and reaching for the dictionary, just imagine what sweat and blood will go into determining what ‘influence’ is.