% Strong agree/agree Incentives to pursue cross opportunitiesare commensurate with the effort required
All lawyers




Business professionals


>500 lawyer firms


<100 lawyer firms


OK before we go on, let’s take a little detour; there are a few fun facts I’d like to share – and then we’ll talk a bit about the (really not hard) things firms can do to gin up their cross-serve programs.

First, have you (as have I) wondered if there’s a disconnect between management and the rest of the firm?   Well on this topic wonder no more; there is a disconnect.  Guess which way it runs?  Management is much more bullish than others at their firm.  This (mis-placed?) optimism was evinced across a variety of aspects of collaboration at their firms.  A few examples where management’s responses were much more positive than others include:

  • Knowing the firm and knowing the client and knowing the intersection of client needs and our firm’s capabilities
  • We have the skills to pursue cross opportunities
  • We have clear goals for our cross-serve efforts
  • We provide sufficient training and tools to pursue cross-opportunities
  • Lawyers and business professionals are held accountable for cross opportunities
  • Etc.

This would suggest, at the very least, that firm management secure a much more clear-eyed understanding of what is actually happening in the trenches – and rather than exhorting (often loudly) about the need to collaborate, put some real plans (with real teeth) in place.  Absent that, the exhorting isn’t working and (as we’ve heard at many firms) folks are tired of hearing the same empty calls-to-action.

Also, interesting (at least to me) is that business professionals at firms, including C-suite members and administrators are much more bearish generally on aspects of their firms’ efforts to successfully collaborate.  Following are some examples where business professionals are less positive than others:

  • Knowing the firm and knowing the client
  • We have a good plan to pursue cross opportunities
  • These is good coordination between practice groups and offices
  • Lawyers and others at my firm are responsive when cross-serve opportunities arise
  • Lawyers at the firm are generally comfortable pursuing cross opportunities.
  • I believe lawyers and others at the firm have the skills to pursue cross opportunities

As long-time readers know, we believe a good indicator of success is having a strong cadre of experienced professionals, who can expertly and effectively lead the business functions at a law firm.  Importantly, these folks can bring a more business-oriented perspective to a firm’s management; they need not only a “place” at the table – but also a voice.  They clearly have a different take on collaboration at firms – it might make sense to find out why.

There were some interesting differences in responses from larger firms versus those from folks at smaller ones.  Here are a few examples.

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