Last week I had the privilege of presenting at a North Carolina 80-lawyer firm retreat. Normally, when I am hired by a firm to aid in the marketing effort, my challenge is to convince the firm of what they need to do to be successful at legal marketing and business development. That was not what happened in this case.

 I feel a little guilty charging the firm of Ward and Smith, P.A. for my services. The firm is so incredibly with it, that I’m still not sure why they felt they needed me in the first place. Let me explain.

The firm over the last couple of years had already undertaken SWOT analysis, followed by planning and implementation of their strategies (without the benefit of an outside consultant). Additionally, they have focused heavily on clients and relationship building in general. Finally, they have created a family atmosphere (reinforced by spouses and significant others who attended the retreat).

Not only does the firm hold a retreat each year at a resort with the better half attending, but spouses and others are invited to all substantive sessions, if they wish to attend. Other family functions are held during the year. Good internal marketing!

What struck me the most about what the firm is already doing includes:


  • All lawyers meet quarterly to thrash out and build on efforts initiated at the annual retreats;
  • The firm has practice groups responsible for administrative, CLE, practice development purposes, and interdisciplinary client or industry teams for marketing and client development purposes; and
  • Client teams meet monthly and report in writing on business development progress.

Client Relationships:

  • A full-time, dedicated marketing partner who visits with clients seeking feedback and business development opportunities;
  • Teams visit with clients off the clock; and
  • Invite clients to “lunch and learn” or after hours cookouts, either at a firm location or at a clients’ (even towing their own BBQ equipment along), and responding to questions from clients free of charge.

Considering how much I hear (and write) about what clients want from their outside lawyers (and aren’t getting), I know of only a few that begin to match what Ward and Smith is doing. I haven’t had a chance to meet any of their clients, but I’ll bet you $10 to a donut that they have a ton of satisfied clients who believe that their law firm really “gets it.”