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Can a Kentucky firm beat out a New York firm? Yes.

9 comments

Toyota Motors USA announced last week that it would hire Alston + Bird, an Atlanta-based law firm, to handle the defense work related to its unintended-acceleration problems. An Atlanta firm. This is fascinating because Toyota’s headquarters are in Los Angeles and the courtrooms will be located in Southern California.

Jim Merklinger of the Association of Corporate Counsel recently relayed the story of a corporation that held a beauty contest to select a firm. Of the group invited to pitch, most were New York-based law firms. Whom did they choose? A Kentucky firm. Yes, Kentucky. Wow.

Stories like these are becoming increasingly commonplace—because the rules have changed.

The internet has created a world without borders. It has revolutionized the ability to find a precise solution that best addresses your exact needs—regardless of geographic location—and has changed the business culture in the process. One result of this is that clients are now increasingly willing to engage professionals halfway around the world, as long as they have exactly the right expertise.

As traditionally local practices are forced to compete in a much wider marketplace (regional, national or even international), many firms will need to rethink the way they develop business—or risk losing out to new competitors.

So how do you win at this new game? There are two big steps that will put you on the right path:

  1. Become a micro-specialist: There are Trusts and Estates lawyers located in every town. However, a client might be open to working remotely with—and even pay a premium for—a T&E lawyer with special expertise in, say, multi-generational family businesses.
  2. Demonstrate your expertise: Write. Speak. Blog. Tweet. Instead of telling prospects that you’re on the cutting edge—demonstrate it. Give away your best insights. This type of “thought leadership” work is vital to building your reputation as the must-hire expert.

There’s one more thing that you might consider: as more and more business is conducted electronically, your office is no longer where prospects’ first impressions of you are made—they now occur when your prospects visit your website. As a result, maintaining appearances at your address in the virtual world should be treated with as much care as your physical office location.

Comments

9 comments... read them below or add one.
  1. Helen says:

    Great post. Even if a lawyer wants to focus their practice on their city or state, expanding their reputation nationally through the Internet (including blogging) reinforces why clients should hire them locally.

  2. Sean Timmons says:

    I really liked the insight into maintaining your website the way firms once maintained their offices.

  3. Jorge Colón says:

    “The internet has created a world without borders. It has revolutionized the ability to find a precise solution that best addresses your exact needs—regardless of geographic location….”

    Dion,

    Perfectly said! :-)

    Thank you for using your excellent platform to get this out to lawyers. I have been sharing this with lawyers since 2008, but many can’t really see this affecting them locally. Even less can see the global opportunities!

    Thanks,
    Jorge
    The Online Bar
    http://follr.me/Jorge

  4. Vincent Bell says:

    Geographical barriers to entry are almost gone. The huge investments that law firms have made in technology allow lawyers to transcend distance when they work. This change is further advanced by clients wanting to get their work done at the lowest possible price. These two forces are coming together to eliminate the few remaining concerns about lack of proximity.

  5. Jeff Mehalic says:

    Although the Internet means that lawyers and firms face much greater competition for clients than ever before, more importantly, it means that lawyers and firms now can compete for clients they may never have had an opportunity or the means to represent.

  6. Mark Smith says:

    I suspect it depends on what the firm’s market strategy is. If it’s a geographic strategy, then the starting point would logically be “on the home court” and expanding out from this as successful. This holds true for multi-office operations who sell into local markets.

    If firms are vertically focussed, as many are these days (and many more claim to be!), then I absolutely think that a firm from out of town can win a client by demonstrating a real knowledge and understanding of the company’s business. For example, if I’m a corporate counsel in an ERP software vendor in a fairly large city, and I need some very specific advice on, say the privacy implications of a new module I’m developing, then I would look to a firm that understood my software and business model and who had some expertise, rather than just a general tech firm in the area.

    In my experience, there is still tremendous scope for law firms to win work by being focussed, and if the firm does this well, they can transcend geographical boundaries.

    http://intelligentchallenge.wordpress.com/

  7. Mark Smith says:

    I suspect it depends on what the firm’s market strategy is. If it’s a geographic strategy, then the starting point would logically be “on the home court” and expanding out from this as successful. This holds true for multi-office operations who sell into local markets.

    If firms are vertically focused, as many are these days (and many more claim to be!), then I absolutely think that a firm from out of town can win a client by demonstrating a real knowledge and understanding of the company’s business. For example, if I’m a corporate counsel in an ERP software vendor in a fairly large city, and I need some very specific advice on, say the privacy implications of a new module I’m developing, then I would look to a firm that understood my software and business model and who had some expertise, rather than just a general tech firm in the area.

    In my experience, there is still tremendous scope for law firms to win work by being focussed, and if the firm does this well, they can transcend geographical boundaries.

    http://intelligentchallenge.wordpress.com/

  8. […] to drugie źródło wiedzy o doświadczeniu zaraz po rekomendacji. I nie ma tutaj przesady, bo takie przypadki już się zdarzają (np. Toyota z Los Ang. wynajęła małą, ale wyspecjalizowaną firmę […]

  9. […] to drugie źródło wiedzy o doświadczeniu zaraz po rekomendacji. I nie ma tutaj przesady, bo takie przypadki już się zdarzają (np. Toyota z Los Ang. wynajęła małą, ale wyspecjalizowaną firmę […]

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