When a group of law firm partners
discusses significant changes in their respective firms, one of them will
almost certainly say: "But no other firm in our market does this..."
We have three responses that we ask
our clients to consider:
First, are you sure? We
have frequently discovered, upon further investigation, that the assumption by
a group of partners that nobody else is implementing a specific change or
innovation is inaccurate. Do not assume, just because the idea seems radical to
you, that one of your competitors is not considering a similar change. Some of
them may have already implemented it successfully; but you just don't know
Second, do you really want your
firm's actions to be governed by the inertia of your competitors? The
fact that no other law firm in your market does something (assuming that it not
unlawful) is not a terribly persuasive argument. It is, at best, a piece of
evidence for you to consider. Do not "benchmark" your firm to the mediocre
habits of others.
Third, remember that market
leaders lead the market. The risks of inaction in a maturing, highly
competitive market for professional services are usually greater than the risks
of innovation. You might avoid some risks by not being the first firm in your
market to try a new approach; but you face the much greater risk of a potential
competitive advantage that could be lost forever if you wait until another firm
implements the new idea. It will be very difficult for you to catch up.
In the law, as in any other
business, one cannot lead a market from the second or third row. Market
leaders lead the market.
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