'Do you come here often?'

'Do you come here often?'

Sometimes finding the right strategic partner is like looking for a new romance in a bar. The key to success is finding points of affinity upon which to build a relationship, whether for the rest of the evening or for a lifetime.

This is a second of a series of posts about common mistakes law firms make when trying to establish a strategic alliance with another law firm.

The second big mistake is a lack of actual points of affinity between the two firms.  These relationships have to be based on more than professional friendships or an occasional referral of instructions in the past.

When our firm conducts market research to help our clients find strategic partners, we look for points of affinity that are based on current and recent events, cases, and transactions - such as the candidate firm having clients with significant business interests in the home jurisdiction of our client.

The notion of "build it and they will come" simply does not work in this situation. Two firms cannot simply set up a strategic relationship and then try to create the client base and inter-firm work flow needed to support it. The basic elements must already be there.

This is a major problem for most contemplated strategic relationships between law firms. Too many of these efforts are the products of friendly conversation and wishful thinking over drinks at a conference. While it is always good to be optimistic, it is better in this situation to be realistic.

Read more on the Walker Clark Worldview Blog.