Law Firms: Look for Edges
Cheap ~ Expensive
Cutting edge ~ Old fashioned
Easy ~ difficult
Light ~ dark
Open ~ closed
Dull ~ bright
Modern Branding ~ Old Branding (think of Tahoma vs. Times New Roman)
Discount for bulk buy ~ added payment if we exceed your expectations
Dress code ~ no dress code
IT led ~ people led
Our story ~ your story
Now you may disagree with these as edges and apposite for a law firm, but this is where you are likely to find the most interesting work, people, products, and services; and certainly it is where your people are likely to be the most engaged, providing they are given the freedom to explore new ideas within the legal services wrapper.
Edges doesn’t equate to USPs although there is a correlative factor. And it doesn’t mean wacky or outlandish – in other words going for the shock approach. An example might be to encourage everyone to come to work in shorts and flip flops in the hope of attracting a different clientele. You might end up alienating all your other clients who pay your bills on time even though they may not be as sexy.
A lot of law firms don’t ever stop to really ask the question what they stand for and often it is a fudge. Sure you exist to serve your clients. But how, why and what drives the service delivery? Consider some edges and it may just help you.
Take something that is likely to have greater import into the future: tiered services. Something that the banks have been telling us we need for quite some time, even though I have yet to work out why I have ended up with the most expensive sounding plastic card – if it was made of platinum it might be worth having. I still don’t understand the advantage of skiing insurance when I don’t ski! If you are going to go down this route think about an edge that you can exploit. Cheap ~ expensive looks too obvious but what about open ~ closed in the context of the way in which the services or contact is provided.
Now you may have cottoned on to this and want to push the envelop even further but the risk I would conjecture is that save in the most limited of cases, you will find it difficult to engage with enough clients to make it pay. As an example you might decide to offer a free tablet to all your high net worth individuals but they may be entirely the wrong demographic whereas your commercial clients might get far more out of the device. Doesn’t sound radical I know but the concept of edges does give you something to think about rather than getting tied into the hackneyed expression of thinking outside the box.
Next time you have your team get together try exploring (or exploding) the idea of edges and see where you get to. You may be pleasantly surprised what new ideas emerge.
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