By handling top client accounts at a firm-wide or team level, as opposed to leaving them to individual attorneys, Latin American law firms can substantially increase client loyalty and boost revenues. That’s the main conclusion of a major study by Latin Lawyer magazine and the law firm management consultancy, Gulland Padfield.
The research suggests there are significant opportunities for firms in Latin America to make client account management a significant differentiator – particularly with local and international corporate and institutional clients who have had experience with some of the leading US and European law firms. But the resistance to capitalizing on this opportunity often lies inside the Latin law firm’s organization, with the partners and attorneys sometimes unwilling to share their relationships or develop them in collaboration with colleagues.
About the study
The study comprised interviews and survey responses with many leading law firms in all the Latin American jurisdictions. Participants were asked to complete a series of questions on their firms’ structure, approach to client management, CRM systems, coaching and skills training, their culture and Marketing and Business Development strategies including cross-selling initiatives.
Are you the managing partner or leader of a law firm who wants to energise your Client Account approach and grow existing and new client relationships? Are you looking to strengthen your firm’s client relationships? Would you like to hear more about the insights from Gulland Padfield and Latin Lawyer’s joint survey and report?
If so, start a conversation with Gulland Padfield. To find out more about our ideas and case studies that link Client Relationship Management to the profitability of your firm contact us on +44(0) 203 051 2295 or start a conversation at email@example.com.
How should firms respond to the requests from general counsel to be more client-focused?
‘Law firms do not try to identify my needs at all. They are responsive to what I need, but it is me who needs to communicate that to them. There is not one single law firm that tries to do this proactively,’ says the senior in-house counsel of a well-known multi-Latina company. This somewhat damning appraisal of service providers in Latin America was given to Latin American Corporate Counsel Association. The joint report raises some interesting issues and challenges about how the major law firms are developing deeper relationships with clients, says James Edsberg, co-author of the report. ‘And it also has interesting implications for the larger international law firms now looking to enter the Latin American market – where the rewards could be substantial as the region continues to develop.'
5 Observations from the Report
There are several interesting conclusions relating to the report, which can be read in full on Latin Lawyer’s website www.latinlawyer.com.
1. Client Relationship Management, in other words, the approach law firms take to manage aspects of their service other than the quality and accuracy of the legal advice they provide, is becoming an area in which many Latin law firms are now focusing as (i) clients become more demanding (ii) as legal services markets in LatAm become more consolidated and subject to stronger downward fee pressures and (iii) as international law firms enter Latin markets offering wider services.
2. While Account Management is by definition something that a law firm provides to its existing clients, there is evidence that when a law firm gets a reputation for managing all key aspects of the client relationship consistently well, that has compelling positive appeal to a firm’s prospective clients and reputation in the local market.
3. A significant amount of work needs to be done inside many Latin law firms to get their attorneys to advise and develop a corporate client as whole, rather than just leaving the responsibility to a single partner. Significant revenue opportunities are being missed because of a lack of teaming across a law firm. Understanding the complex reasons behind this lack of internal collaboration is vital if behaviours are to be changed.
4. The study identifies the opportunity for firms to strengthen their business strategy, specifically, their plans for growth in 2017 - 2018. About half of those surveyed admit that their firm has an inconsistent business planning in place, or lacks a business strategy entirely. Without that foundation, making the case to partners and attorneys about the need for steps towards a firm-wide approach to client relationship management is unlikely to succeed.
5. Many smaller partnerships in the region express the view in the study that they are close to the point where their previous ad hoc and informal approach to client care is no longer working and that investments in CRM software, and aligning some processes inside the firm will be necessary to drive the next phase of the firm’s growth.
If you would like to discuss this issue with the co-author of the report, James Edsberg of Gulland Padfield, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, and details of the full report, sign up to Latin Lawyer and follow these links:
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