We’ve written before about law firms’ nearly universal use of the terms “collegial” and “collaborative” to define what makes their cultures, each and every one, special. So indiscriminate is this usage that we find it not just promiscuous but bordering on wanton, and becoming in and of itself devoid of meaning.

On the other hand.

We don’t question law firms’ sincerity on this issue, we just question their ability to articulate something distinctive and meaningful.

Here at Adam Smith, Esq., we’re huge fans of data—regular readers know that—and so we decided to design a survey to try to put the “collegial and collaborative” claim to the test.

Here it is.

We framed it in terms of cross-selling, or, our much-preferred term, “cross-serving.” Why do we think a survey on “cross-serving” will help us get at the collaboration quotient within law firms? Frankly, we think cross-serving is the most visible and effective manifestation of collaboration within a firm.

Semantics: We were at a firm’s partner retreat recently and asked to define what we meant by “cross-serving” vs “cross-selling,” and we came up with this analogy: “Imagine you go into Home Depot to buy some paint for your front hall. The person helping you asks if you’d be interested in a lawnmower. That’s cross-selling. Cross-serving is when the person helping you tells you about a free one-hour class on painting at the store and asks if you’d be interested in signing up.”

While not perfect, we think you get the idea. “Selling” is trying to press upon the client whatever you’ve got to offer, while “serving” at least starts from the premise of what the client’s problem is and what their immediate needs are.

The survey touches four main topics and how strongly you agree or disagree with descriptions about them at your firm. The topics are:

  • Knowledge
  • Management
  • Resources, and
  • Teamwork

It will take less than five minutes to complete and at the end, as a special incentive and a token of our appreciation, you have the option of entering your name in a lottery for one of two $50 gift cards.

Take me to the survey!

Look for the results on a friendly neighborhood online publication near you in the not too distant future. Namely, Adam Smith, Esq.

And as always we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Go to the survey!

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