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Law Firms Must Adapt and Small Firms Can Do It Best

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on December 18, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Law is built on a system of precedent, which can make it difficult to adapt to a changing society.

This emphasis on "the way things have always been" isn't just part of case law and statutes. It's part of the way many law firms are run. But if large firms' recent financial troubles are any indicator, stagnancy is problematic.

For smaller law firms, the habits are no less ingrained, but it is easier to make important changes. Learning how to adapt can prevent your client base from moving on without you.

Legal practice has become a system where in many areas there is less demand than there is supply. That allows clients to be choosy about their lawyers.

The way to win that race is to offer services that your clients want.

That could mean learning more about the industry you represent. Or it could mean keeping up with new literature about your legal field.

Using CLE courses as a learning experience rather than a time drain can help you keep on top of your legal market.

Adaptation also means responding to client needs, not just to changes in the legal practice. If clients are asking about services you don't provide, don't dismiss their queries out of hand. Look into things like alternative fee arrangements, mediation, or other services that clients are asking for.

Too often attorneys say "no" when asked about new services, when they should instead say "not at this time."

If you've already taken steps to adapt your practice to more current needs, let potential clients know. Offering new or better services won't help if no one is aware of it.

Make sure you have a marketing team that can help you take advantage of the changes you've made.

Being able to adapt is key to attracting new business and keeping existing clients happy. Don't let your legal practice get stuck in a rut, or you may find you're in there by yourself.

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