Reflections from VQ Forum - International Business Development, 17 November 2012


Stockholm provided a beautiful backdrop to the this year’s VQ and Regi combined annual VQ Knowledge and Strategy Forum and Law Firm of the Year symposium held last Wednesday, November 14th. As Virtual Intelligence VQ, a Stockholm-based advisory firm to the legal services industry reported: “The one-day conference covered topics of interest for leadership, strategy, innovation and technology for the legal and professional services market.” Speakers included Susan Hackett, Charles Christian, Chris Bull, Eric Hunter and David Fitch.

Indeed, the conference became the highest-trending topic on Twitter that day.  The conference was live tweeted in its' entirety by @lawtechfutures and @netlawmedia.  Erik Fors-Andrée has compiled a superb outline and narrative of the topics discussed at the forum on his blog.  A Storify  summary of the event was posted by Christine Kirchberger.

Conference business development highlights

During the conference, the LPO industry was cited as booming, increasing from a $640 Million dollar per year industry to a $4 Billion dollar per year industry by 2015.  I cite this statistic as it reflects a direct drain on traditional law firms, and I believe it underscores the reason why their leadership, as well as those who advise them on business development strategy, should be focused on how to transform law firm business development units into highly sophisticated operations similar to the ones seen in very successful businesses in other sectors.  Some of the comments I found most interesting from participants in the conference were: (and I herein refer to live tweeting which I read and interpreted as accurately as possible.  The comments below do not reflect direct quotes from any participants, but rather the themes I was able to glean from following the live tweeting):

  1. Clients want profitable relationships with their law firms, and firms were encouraged to be part of their clients' strategies and business.
  2. General Counsel's want legal advisers who have deep understanding of their business and law firms should align their services to support client profitability drivers
  3. Law firms should become similar to mainstream businesses.
  4. Cross-selling to existing clients was cited as an easier means by which to develop new revenue versus developing the same levels of revenue from new clients.
  5. 5% of clients said that a seminar was the reason why they instructed a law firm.

All of these insights I believe are very useful for law firms and lawyers to act upon in consultation with their strategic advisors.  However, I believe the following main issues need refining and updating as part of internal law firm discussions about how best to secure new business, as well as among advisors to the profession during conferences which have some focus on best practices in legal business development.

Two themes, among others, would benefit from a sharper focus:

  1. During both conferences, the General Counsel's office was referred to as the primary source of where lawyers and law firms might secure new business.  I believe this approach is too narrow, and the commercial staff of companies ought to be the first focus of most legal business development efforts.
  2. Cross-selling to existing clients was also highlighted.  Outbound business development is also a very effective means by which to develop new business, and ought to be explored in depth in the future.

Please read John Grimley's full blog post to find out all about his interesting reflections on how to bring commercial opportunities to commercial staff within potential new client companies here: "Win new business by aligning law firm services to support client profitability drivers"

All news