One Size Does Not Fit All

Is Downsizing Really Good for your Firm?

Once again the legal profession is recognizing a trend already standard in other industries: competitive intelligence (CI). Legal managers are taking a page from their counterparts outside legal organizations to ensure their rims remain ahead of the game.

What Is It?

The Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals defnies CI as "the legal collection and analysis of information regarding the capabilities, vulnerabilities, and intentions of business competitors, conducted by using information databases and other 'open sources' and through ethical inquiry."

Stephen Mabey Author

Michael Mabey
Michael Mabey, VP
Energy Market Solutions

"The bottom line may not be the only measurement area for success in law firms.

Professional service firms must evaluate what drives their success:

The people who do the work."

"Leaner and meaner" is the cry of consultants, corporate leaders and partners who see the strategy as a path to survival and prosperity now and into the next millennium. The cry can be heard in most professional service firms. Law firms are following this advice and reflecting what the corporate world has espoused--seemingly without regard to the long-term implications and consequences of downsizing.

While there are many surface similarities between the corporate and the professional service worlds, there are also fundamental differences that cannot be overlooked by law firms. Yes, professional service firms must make a profit. Yes, their managers must understand and leverage the latest technology. Yes, they must keep pace with rapid changes in the preferences of their clients. And, these professional service providers need to strive for increasingly higher financial reward for their shareholders/partners. But the bottom line may not be the only measurement area for success in law firms. Professional service firms must evaluate what drives their success; the people who do the work.

Despite the apparently easy path downsizing offers to improved financial health, professional service firms may be adversely impacting their single most important success driver. These firms sell the intellectual expertise and services that only their employees can provide. Firms must realize this as it will affect the types of corporate strategy they implement. Downsizing in a professional service environment could be equivalent to a manufacturer removing some of the essential production machinery from the factory floor! To do so would be to remove the company's ability to maintain and increase its revenues.

However, many firms fail to realize this distinction, so downsizing in professional services firms continues. So, is downsizing really good for your firm?

Are clients better served by downsizing?...

The rest of this article is available in Stephen Mabey's new Book

Book Cover - Leading and Managing a Sustainable Law Firm - Tactics & Strategies for a Rapidly Changing Profession by Stephen Mabey

Available for purchase on BookBaby.





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Previously published in Legal Management April 1997. Copyright © Applied Strategies Inc.

Legal Strategy Consultant