% Strong agree/agree Respondents from>500 lawyer firms Respondents from<100 lawyer firms
I understand thefirm’s capabilities



I have the necessaryskills to cross serve



We have good intel on clientsand industries



We have good external communicationsto clients on cross-serve capabilities



Clearly, and somewhat intuitively, larger and smaller firms have different inherent advantages in pursuing cross-serve opportunities.  Whether your firm is smaller or larger, you need to take a hard analytic look at your efforts and where needed compensate for inherent disadvantages in pursuing cross opportunities.

So, where does all this lead us?  I think it’s pretty self-evident.  Develop a plan. Execute it.

Before we leave you, however we think it’s important to understand that what it takes to build true collaboration at your firm is a whole lot easier than what many lawyers and law firms do on a regular basis.   For example, getting to know your client’s industry seems like a cake walk compared to (say) structuring an asset acquisition of a target company or (for you litigators) preparing to cross-examine an expert on antitrust “market definition.”  Asking for client feedback is (really) a breeze compared to representing the issuer in a subordinated debt placement or licensing a package of related patents.

You get the idea; compared to the practice of law building effective cross-serve programs is duck soup.

So, why don’t more firms more aggressively or more systematically pursue this?  Here’s a kinda wacky idea – perhaps all this stuff (and for fun, I’ll include other business fundamentals – such as project management and pricing) may, in fact, be just too obvious – and therefore, not perceived as being very important by lawyers.  My hypothesis is that lawyers are educated and trained to value the really hard, arcane, unobvious stuff.  Many of the most revered in Law Land are those who came up with something no one else has; a new interpretation of an existing statute or a new (convoluted) instrument.  As one of our favorite Managing Partners puts it rather poetically, “The practice of law is about language, ideas, persuasion and judgment.”

Business, frankly isn’t all that poetic.  Certainly there are moments of inspiration.  Business people need to be persuasive and evince good judgement.  But – business is a bit more left-brained than right.

We think smart firms bring in accomplished business people to complement those practicing law.  Use these other professionals to develop smart, efficient plans that they will help the lawyers implement.  The business folks won’t be practicing law – and the lawyers will (mostly) be able to focus on what they both do best and value most; practicing law.

Sounds like a good plan to me.

Oh, and, if you’re curious just how collaborative and collegial your firm (really) is – please let us know.


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