I recently bought a new car. If you have done this in the last little while you know it can be quite the endeavour, and the choice available today is unprecedented. There are styles — sedan, convertible, station wagon, minivan, SUV, CUV, or truck. There are sizes — microcompact, subcompact, compact, midsize, or full size. There are fuel choices — gas, diesel, electric, or hybrid. There are transmission choices — standard, automatic, multi-clutch, or CVT. I could go on but you get the idea.
What do you do? And more importantly how do you choose?
In my instance, my wife and I had a discussion about our current and future needs, set a budget and went about researching what was available.
Some answers were easy — she won’t drive an SUV and I won’t drive a minivan. Others were more difficult, like setting a budget and sticking to it. Full disclosure: I have worked in the automotive industry for a premium German brand so I do have some prejudices and some preconceived ideas of needs vs. wants even though some of those wants somehow moved into the need category. Nonetheless we had a process and we stuck to it.
As we went through the process, what seemed like an enormous choice of vehicles actually became quite a limited one. We researched vehicles that were available, talked to people that owned brands that we were considering, and read reviews about the vehicles. In the end, our final decision became easier as our short list was very short. After a single test driving of a vehicle that checked all our boxes we purchased it.
So what does this have to do with law?
When people need legal services the choice is almost endless. There are full service firms or boutiques. There are small, medium and large firms. There are local, national and internal firms. A small company on a tight budget is going to want to have the best legal representation available to them no differently than a fortune 500 hundred company that spends millions of dollars annually on legal fees.
Each company has a unique set of needs and when selecting a law firm to work with, clients will have a process that they will follow. They will understand there requirements and have a budget. They will research firms, ask colleagues for recommendations and speak to (test drive) potential counsel.
As a firm, you must understand your niche and target clients that fit that niche. There was no reason for a car company to try and sell me on a minivan when that wasn’t something I needed or had any intention of buying. In the same way you may not get the best results promoting your litigation boutique firm to a start up company.