There has been an interesting discussion going on over on both the LMA (Legal Marketing Association)’s listserv and The LawMarketing Listserv (membership required for both) the past few days about what a small law firm should do when BigLaw moves into their marketplace.

My take: First of all sit down, relax and have a good laugh. Because, unless the mega firm is moving into town for reasons relating to an existing client or a local merger, they really aren’t a threat in my opinion. I say that because:

  • They’re too expensive for most of your clients,
  • They are an unknown quantity, unless they merge with a local firm (and that will only make your old/now larger competitor more expensive),
  • Smart businesses will know that unless they are a large corporation themselves, they will just become a smaller fish in a bigger pond,
  • Most of your clients don’t know anything about the firm nor would have any reason to go to a larger firm, and
  • Most importantly, BigLaw does not or is unlikely to have a relationship with your clients, and you do.

Secondly, over the years I’ve seen law firms move into different cities where my law firm was located, and where the new firm had no prior presence.  I’ve seen these firms struggle and I’ve seen some leave town after a few years. Moreover, I’ve been in a couple of large firms, where many of the lawyers were not particularly good marketers (not for lack of effort on the part of the marketing department, I might point out), but because they had no interest in marketing or were convinced that the work would always be there.


Finally, there really isn’t anything to worry about, as long as you have excellent relationships with your important clients.


You do have terrific relationships with your clients don’t you?  If not, stop laughing, because you may indeed have a problem.


But there is a solution.


Identify those clients that you would not like to lose. Let’s call them your key clients. Immediately plan to visit these clients (off the clock), and seek feedback on how your firm is doing, and what you could do to be a better legal services provider. It’s pretty late to be doing this, but not too late.


So, I don’t see a serious threat just because a large firm moves into your marketplace. Although they may be a gorilla, that doesn’t mean they will be successful in luring your clients away. The only danger in my view is where your law firm has given your clients reasons to look to the new law firm for services. And that means you have failed in the client relationship department.