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Four boasts by law firms that turn few heads of prospective clients

A recent survey of general counsel in Europe offers some advice to law firms: “It is pointless to make ‘independence’ the main banner in their marketing, because clients and potential clients simply do not care.” Whether a local firm has joined a larger firm or has continued to practice on their own makes no meaningful difference to general counsel who are shopping (or deciding whether to retain).

The survey was conducted by the Belgium-based consultants FrahanBlondé and is available for purchase; please contact Antoine Frahan. Along with independence, I would add three other putative persuaders that fail to impress general counsel.

One is one-stop shopping (See my post of Jan. 21, 2010: full-service is an empty advantage.). General counsel like to be able to pick and choose.

Size of firm, on its own, has only slight influence, and it could work against a firm as much as for it if the size comes across as burdened by higher overhead costs. If a general counsel retains a specialist lawyer, what does it matter if ten, or dozens of tens, of other lawyers surround that one lawyer?

Likewise unimpressive, a firm’s global footprint might actually trigger some concerns that tug at the back of the prospect’s mind about consistency of quality, cost, and coordination (See my post of March 15, 2006: uneven skills and capabilities among international offices.).

Far more compelling than these four claims – independent, do-it-all, large, and global spread – are personal respect for a particular partner.