The short answer to this is that there are as many different strategies as there are for types of law firm and for types of litigation. However, at a recent CLT conference I outlined the following strategies:
The Rock Star
This is where an individual litigator develops a very high personal profile (which also supports a high profile for his/her firm) and devotes a significant time to providing talks at high profile events and to providing pithy and controversial comments to the media on as many occasions as possible. This is particularly appropriate when the litigator acts in a media-intensive area – such as in celebrity cases for defamation or family matters.
This is where an individual or a firm carves out a small and specialist niche where they have invested time and energy in developing truly specialist knowledge. They are known in the legal directories as being one of the leaders in their field and were also, perhaps, one of the first to market in talking up their subject. Their knowledge may be associated with a particular market sector or a particular legal issue. They are admired by their professional colleagues for their superlative legal skills.
This is where either a range of services are packaged up and/or priced in an unusual way or where a firm has invested in developing some unique product or service. For example, a recent winner of the marketing awards developed – in conjunction with economists and accountants – a service that allowed the risk and reward profile of potential litigation to be calculated so that an informed business decision could be made about whether to pursue or settle and at which point.
Here the litigators work in an integrated way alongside their non-contentious colleagues in order to promote their dispute resolution and litigation services alongside their colleagues as part of a package of expertise and service on a particular topic or for a particular sector. This is a common approach for those involved in property, construction, employment and commercial work such as debt collection.
This approach focuses on the established and existing client base of the firm and uses those relationships that already exist within the firm to reach the relevant decision makers at client organisations. Often, these people will use key client account management techniques to identify and reach the key decision makers.
This relies on the social skills (and lunch and dinner appointments) of the litigator as it is heavily reliant on constant and intensive networking and client/referrer entertaining. The poor “rainmaker” will find their lives a constant swirl of social engagements – sometimes relating to a sport such as golf – where they meet and establish friendships with a wide variety of people. Often, this is a way to generate litigation work with an international flavour.
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