Lawyers, The Competition That Kills You Might Not Look Like You

Lawyers, The Competition That Kills You Might Not Look Like You

Nancy MyrlandAll Posts, Business Development/Sales, Business of Law, Client Service and Retention, Competition Leave a Comment

At the recent Legal Marketing Association conference (#LMA22) in Las Vegas, our keynote presenters on the first day were Richard and Daniel Susskind, the visionaries we have all come to know, like, trust, and respect in this industry and profession.

Richard and Daniel study and look at the future of the profession and give recommendations and insight as to how firms can protect, nurture, and grow their businesses.

During the conversation, Richard shared a reminder that the competition that kills you might not look like you.


That got a lot of people in the audience thinking because, in the legal profession, many tend to look at the law firm down the street, or across the country, or across the world as their primary competition. These are the obvious choices because they have been for a very long time. We can see them.

The Not So Obvious Sources of Competition For Lawyers

Today and in the future, you must realize that your competition does not just come from traditionally structured law firms, but from those you might not even be imagining.

What would happen if groups of lawyers from different firms went out on their own and created completely different business models that allow them to serve your clients just as well, if not better than you do?

It’s easy to say that this won’t happen, or that others have tried it and failed. You are safe because your business is healthy.

It is easy to put those blinders on, but let’s look at what has happened in other industries.

  • Look at taxis that have been eaten alive by Uber and Lyft.
  • Look at traditional bookstores that have been replaced by online digital sources of information.
  • Look at the retail industry that has been decimated by efficient and not always less expensive digital powerhouses such as Amazon.
  • Look at CPAs who have lost a bit of business to those who use TurboTax at home.

The Pandemic Has Changed Everything

Richard told us that more people signed up for Harvard’s online services in one year during the pandemic than had enrolled in Harvard’s history. Harvard offered, and students found, a solution that was likely never imagined by Harvard 10 years ago.

Just as with institutions like Harvard, the pandemic forced you and your clients to embrace technology in order to continue to communicate and conduct business. This trend will not reverse. It is nearly impossible to forget or unlearn those skills and ways of doing business that you and your clients have learned.

Alternative Service Providers (ALSPs) Will Figure Out How To Give Your Clients What They Want and Need

The point is that there are people out there thinking about better ways to do what you do.  You can’t get complacent, thinking that won’t happen.

A wise course of action is to figure out what your clients want, need, and expect, even if it isn’t obvious to them.

Richard reminded us that your clients don’t want lawyers, they want the results you offer.

Do The Results You Offer Match What Your Clients Need?

Knowing that your clients want results, it would be wise to regularly ask yourself what results you are offering your clients.

What results are they looking for?

What emotions, problems, anxiety, fears, and other challenges lie beneath the challenges they are able to articulate?

I Was Asked What Firms Can Do To Prepare For This New Competition

Last week, I was invited to network by a fairly new legal marketing and business development professional. This professional has been in our industry for two years, so she wanted to connect and ask my opinion on a few legal business issues.

During our conversation, she referred to Richard and Daniel Susskind’s keynote, and asked me what I thought some of the things are that law firms can do to prepare for, and set themselves apart from, that competition that Richard said might not look anything like us.

I offered my thoughts on a few different solutions. Of course, I mentioned technology and personalization and the ability of those tools to reach clients, potential clients, and other influencers in a way that nurtures and solidifies relationships.

I also agreed with the Susskinds that we need to continue to step up our knowledge and strategic use of technology to build reputations, relationships, and the more efficient execution of the tasks that we must do to run our firms and practices.

Technology Is Great, But Let’s Back Up A Bit

As critical as legal technology is to just about every function in your firm, it is equally important to take a step back and look at some very basic principles because, without them, the latest and greatest technology will not be as effective as it can and should be.

The Question Lawyers Must Ask Themselves

When competition surfaces, what is it that consumers of products and services use to determine who they will do business with?

What are the measuring sticks used to help make their decisions easier? Are those measuring sticks tangible, or are they more subjective?

In other service-based businesses, if a new business or firm pops up down the street, or strategically places an ad in front of a buyer on the Internet, what would cause that buyer to not jump ship and leave their favorite provider to try out that new service?

Put Yourself In Your Clients’ Shoes

You need to put yourself in the same decision-making position as your clients and potential clients.

Ask yourself, or ask them, what are those things that would cause these people who are so valuable to you and the future of your practice and your firm to be so secure, confident, and pleased with your working relationship that, when faced with alternate sources for service that you offer, they would easily make the decision to continue working with you?

What is it that you do, or could start doing, on a regular basis that helps them realize that:

  • You are easy to do business with
  • You provide service in a way that no one else can
  • You understand their business better than anyone else
  • You go the extra mile to make sure they are prepared for any new developments in their industry
  • You truly value their business and your relationship

Make Yourself Unbeatable

Spend some time brainstorming the answers to the questions above. Please don’t wait until the next pandemic or recession starts to try to make yourself indispensable and unbeatable. This is not a short-term task that you can accomplish at a moment’s notice, but one that is worth your time, effort, and resources to work on now.

  • Gather your team.
  • Brainstorm.
  • Ask your clients.
  • Observe what your clients react to.

Practice Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Form an effort around each client and prospect. Create a plan that speaks directly to making each one happy. Think about all of your clients’ and prospects’ team members, taking into consideration their skills and knowledge and how you can also help them succeed so they are prepared for their current and future responsibilities, and so that you nurture relationships you might rely upon one of these days when your primary contact leaves.

Remember, Your Competition Might Not Look Like You

As Richard Susskind shared, your competition might not look anything like you.

Even more important, your competition might not act anything like you, either, and that could very well be your advantage, now and in the future.

NOTE: If you would like to see the rest of the notes I took during Richard and Daniel Susskind’s wonderful keynote, you can find those right here.

Nancy Myrland Legal Marketing Consultant

Nancy Myrland is a Marketing and Business Development Advisor, specializing in Content, Social & Digital Media. She helps lawyers and legal marketers grow by integrating all marketing disciplines in order to build their reputations and their relationships, which leads to building their practices.

Also known as the LinkedIn Coach For Lawyers, Nancy is a frequent LinkedIn trainer, as well as a content marketing specialist. She helps lawyers, law firms, and legal marketers learn and implement content, social and digital media strategies that cut through the clutter and are more relevant to their current and potential clients. 

As an early and constant adopter of social and digital media and technology, she also helps firms with blogging, podcasting, video marketing, voice marketing, and livestreaming. Nancy also works with many firms and lawyers on Zoom and virtual presentation training and coaching to be the best they can be when presenting online. She also helps lead select law firms through their online social media strategy when dealing with high-stakes, visible cases.