Firm of choice book review

This book review of “How to become the firm of choice” on strategy development in PSFs appeared in Professional Marketing magazine in the September 2017 edition.

This book tells a story. In the form of a case study. It joins a mid-sized (21 partner) law firm on its two year journey to develop and implement a strategy as a new managing partner takes over. It takes us through partner workshops that are inspired by insights from another law firm and facilitated by an external consultant. The aim is to become the firm of choice.

The authors are from accountancy firms and consultancies with strong links to Harvard Business School. They draw on research from 250 firms on what successful firms do.

There’s much to commend the book – it guides managing partners as they attempt to develop a strategy in their firms. It provides instructions for running an effective retreat. It stresses the need to focus on core issues which is the hallmark of a great strategy (see:  Book review – How to think strategically by Sola and Couturier (

It provides marketing/BD directors with an approach and tricks of the trade from an experienced consultant. There are good insights into facilitation and consultancy skills. It contains the questions that all law firms should ask themselves.

The fictitious firm works in five teams (markets, clients, people, financial and underpinning beliefs) to identify the critical issues and questions – and proposed solutions. Naturally, these topics are inter-related. Whilst culture and change management are constantly mentioned, there’s little information on how this is achieved. But there is a good best practice learning model addressing partner roles. I liked that the authors grasped the nettle on the question of “What do we do with partners who don’t want to join us?

On the downside, whilst I was delighted that there was a strong focus on market segmentation and clients, I was disappointed that the suggested approach was so inward (practice areas). And as a strategy specialist, I felt that the analyses and options were rather inward and limited. While increasing competition is acknowledged, there’s little attempt to encourage firms to think about significant market disruption or the need for innovation. There’s a danger that all firms could end up with a similar efficiency strategy if they follow the example.

It’s obviously American which may irritate some readers in Europe and Australia where generally law firm strategic development is more advanced. And larger firms may find it basic bearing in mind the complexity of their organisations. And there is some repetition – with the key slides, questions and diagrams reproduced for ease of reference at the end.

But it’s a quick read and I am sure that most readers would gain some comfort from it – not least reassurance that they are doing the right things already.

Other strategy books

Book review: The Strategy Book by Max McKeown ( November 2023

Book review – Managing Brands ( May 2023

Book review: The Management Shift by Vlatka Hlupic ( October 2022

Classic management book reviews – The McKinsey way, Good to great ( May 2022

Book review: B2B Marketing strategy ( February 2022

Executive Engagement Strategies by Bev Burgess ( August 2020

Innovation in Marketing ( August 2020

Advanced Marketing Management: Principles, skills and tools ( May 2019

Change management – Change Catalyst book review by Kim Tasso September 2018

Book review of Analytical Marketer by Adele Sweetwood ( January 2017

Book review – How to think strategically by Sola and Couturier ( August 2014

Book review: Developing a business strategy – strategic planning ( August 2014

Strategy book – corporate social responsibility and regulation ( March 2014

Book review of Richard Rumelt’s “Good strategy, Bad strategy” ( November 2012

Book – Chaotics – marketing in turbulence (scenario planning) ( July 2011

Related strategy in professional services articles

Marketing and BD case studies in legal, accountancy, consultancy ( April 2024

Future Marketing Manager – New product development ( March 2024

Be more strategic: Top-down or bottom-up, marketing ( December 2023

Professional services marketing/BD case studies ( August 2023

Managing Partners’ Forum Strategy Summit ( July 2023

Being more strategic – Case studies and insights (Ireland May 2023) ( June 2023

Be more strategic – A metaphor: Analyse, join and align the dots ( March 2023

Strategy case studies and more matrices ( February 2023

Be more strategic – PESTLE, Positioning and Plans ( December 2022

Be more strategic – Eight insights (February 2022) ( March 2022

Take them on the strategy journey ( September 2021

Strategic thinking it’s a jungle out there ( February 2021

Strategy basics – Mission and vision statements with hedgehogs ( August 2020

Be more strategic – Strategy in a post-Covid19 world ( July 2020

Improve your strategic thinking – Seven insights (2020) ( June 2020

developing more private client work ( September 2019

Strategy basics – Mintzberg ( April 2013

McKinsey’s “Managing the strategy journey” says spend more time on strategy – Kim Tasso August 2012