Changes in the legal market are opening new doors for midsize law firms, allowing them to take on new clients. General counsels are now looking beyond their relationships with big law firms to get the best return on their investments.
Historically, business clients would hire just one large firm to handle their cases, but now they are spreading it across multiple smaller law firms. This is allowing midsize firms to take on new business they never would've considered previously. That is, if they act on the opportunity.
Midsize law firms actually have five advantages over their larger peers that can help them stand out in the market today.
1. They can be more nimble
Agility is a major advantage for midsize law firms, as many tend to operate more like a small business than a large enterprise. Law firms in this segment pride themselves on being able to work quickly and communicate well internally. Quite simply, with fewer employees, it's easier for midsize firms to get everyone on the same page when change is required. This includes the ability to expand capabilities by incorporating new technology and even taking on new kinds of cases.
Agility can sound a little vague, but in very concrete terms, midsize law firms operate with less bureaucracy and more direct interaction with their clients. That translates into a degree of speed, accuracy, and responsiveness that some big firms can't always offer.
2. They deliver truly personal attention
There's nothing like having someone's undivided attention. You know it, and so do your clients. Medium-size law firms have the advantage of less personnel between the firm, and the client, including those well-meaning accidental gatekeepers who, sometimes, just seem to slow down communications.
That leaner staff also means midsize firms tend to have fewer clients. This allows law firm staff to dedicate more individual time to each client. That personal touch isn't just a feather in your customer service cap. For midsize firms, individualized experiences is part of the total package that results in returning clients and referral business.
3. They offer specialized expertise at the right cost
Many midsize law firms specialize in just a few practice areas. This focused expertise helps them work more efficiently on the client's issue for a quicker turnaround on each matter. Additionally, they can invest in uniquely tailored tech solutions that help them work more efficiently, and cost-effectively. This is important to clients who want to move through matters at a faster rate and who are cost-conscious.
4. Their tech roll-outs can be easier
The menu of legal technology is vast. Listing legal research, time and billing trackers, accounting software, document preparation, practice management only scratches the surface. Similarly, the needs of midsize law firms are many and varied. When faced with the prospect of investing in technology to align on matter management or develop customer portals, here again the lack of bureaucracy plays to the midsize law firm's advantage.
While large firms are challenged by the complexity of their own organization, midsize firms are better-positioned to choose and implementing technology. That's not to discount the effort or cost of a tech investment for any business, but when a law firm has fewer seats to purchase – or fewer leaders to convince – the path to technology implementation can become much shorter.
5. They truly can compete with the big firms
In today's world, corporate clients are seeking out firms that can provide top quality work while meeting or exceeding the level of service they're used to. In this quest, your firm's headcount may not matter one way or the other. Clients expect expertise, and responsiveness whether a law firm has ten or one hundred people. The lesson for midsize firms is to live up to that expectation by playing to their strengths.
To learn more about how technology levels the playing field for midsize law firms, download our white paper.