A third dimension which will make you a destination is at least as challenging to create, but digs its own moat of protection around your castle and ramparts if you can build it: That’s providing a global platform. Rome, famously, wasn’t built in a day, nor was the British Empire, nor is a global law firm. As with the firms known for impeccable quality/reputation/pedigree, assaulting these cliffs is a long, tough, expensive, drawn-out slog, with no assurance of success and plenty of obstacles in your path, not least the dissension of partners in your own ranks who don’t think they’ll be around to enjoy the fruits (if indeed you can ever pull it off) but who meanwhile are bearing the costs.

But again, I didn’t say a criterion for being a “destination” was that it’s easy; to the contrary, any destination worth pursuing has to create sustainable competitive advantage, and Industrial Structure 101 tells you that any advantage that can be readily copied will be—and is unsustainable by hypothesis.

Now, what do all three of these “destination-driven” approaches have in common?

All are designed, developed, and implemented from the point of view of responding to what the client wants, not from the inward point of view of the law firm creating some Platonic ideal of what a law firm ought to look like.

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