As a consultant, I advise clients that my job is not to consult, but to get a law firm more business. I like to think that my advice is pretty good, and firms have told me that I have helped them make more money (let’s face it folks, that’s what we are talking about here). But, I have heard people say, “we hired a consultant, paid them a ton of money, and nothing ever came of it.”

Michelle Golden of Golden Practices has a post that asks the question “Can Consultants Have More Impact?”  I wonder too, but short of donning a blue leotard outfit with cape and a big “S” on its front, I’m not sure how. There are no guarantees, particularly when the results on dependent on action by the client firm.

Michelle gives us here five “largest barriers” to the implementation of a consultant’s advice by professional firms:

  • Problems and solutions are NOT simple
  • Democratic leadership
  • Complacency
  • Defensiveness
  • Infrastructure

It is worth a firm’s time to read her comments under each. In my view, as to why law firms fail to implement legal marketing strategies, it comes down to a matter of priorities. More specifically, I believe many firms fail at marketing because there is:

  • No commitment to change (will only happen when a change is perceived as necessary),
  • No perceived incentive – self-imposed, financial or otherwise – by too many lawyers (many, especially in larger firms, still think the work will always magically appear on their desk; and, of course, compensation is still mainly driven by the billable hour),
  • No leadership (as Michelle accurately states, democracy still reigns in most firms), and
  • A perception that marketing is mainly a drain on revenues (when in fact it is an investment in the firm’s future).

Could consultants do more to change a firm’s priorities? Maybe. But I don’t pretend to have a magic formula.

One solution according to Michelle is for consultants to be more selective in the clients they take, focusing on those “firms with higher likelihood of applying our advice.” I don’t disagree. That will help the consultant’s sanity and reduce frustration, but it doesn’t really solve the problem with those firms in most need of our help. I guess we’ll just have to keep working at finding more implementers.