Monday, January 9th, 2012
The global economic turmoil which looks set to continue in 2012 will require law firms to shift their business development and people management settings in order to stay competitive.

Strategic communications and change management consultancy Pier Advisory points to the strength of a law firm’s dispute resolution and restructuring practices as a key barometer in determining how well a firm will navigate the waves of financial anxiety.

Managing Director of Pier Advisory, Mr Jeffrey Naqvi, explains, “It is likely that the corporate/M&A as well as traditional banking deals markets will slow in 2012. Even the powerhouse economies of the world - whilst still growing - are showing some signs of softness. Rather than a doomsday call for law firms, this is actually an ideal time to get their firm structures in order and ensure they have a flexible business model. The next 12 months will not be smooth.”

With there looking to be minimal capital and political will at a global level to ‘spend out of’ the financial crisis, counter-cyclical practices within law firms will become in greater demand. This poses a problem for many commercial law firms, who lead their marketing, reputation and recruitment strategies on being deal-making, corporate and financial specialists.

“Let’s face it - corporate deals and major banking transactions are sexy to talk about and be associated with. So, firms steer their efforts in these areas in terms of external brand-building and reputation management. But what happens when the deals slow down, and the major financings become small cap?

“Corporations and intermediaries in the market shift their perceptions on what are ‘premier’ law firms to focus on those with strong arbitration, litigation and insolvency arms. Many firms risk being caught short in pitch and bid scenarios if they have invested all their branding efforts to date in projecting a ‘bull market’ persona.”

Another challenge for law firms in 2012 will be to respond to internal resourcing realities and aligning them with market needs, alongside their longer-term strategic objectives for talent.

“There has been a war for talent for years and just because things might get lean, firms will be loathe to let good people go. But you can’t warehouse them either. So, the calibre of a firm’s internal development programs over the past few years will become evident for all to see. Those firms which have developed and cross-skilled their associates of all levels will do better at retaining them. Others will start to look elsewhere - either at a firm where they feel they will be valued despite the state of their billings, or in-house.”

Pier Advisory provides specialised market positioning and employee and client engagement strategies. Already there has been a shift in demand for services offered by the consultancy.

Mr Naqvi continues, “Building a meaningful firmwide messaging platform, in a bid to build loyalty with clients and employees alike, is an increasingly-demanded service from us. Law firms of all sizes want a business development strategy for 2012 which focuses on increasing share of wallet from existing revenue sources, as opposed to running lots of seminars for targets and pumping out newsletters. Developing holistic value propositions for employees along the attract-develop-retain path is also on the increase, as firms start to recognise that the employment ‘journey’ with a firm starts well before day one.”

Contact Profile

Pier Advisory Pty Ltd

Pier Advisory specialises in strategic communications, change management, cross-border strategies and engaging people. Pier Advisory keeps its focus on clients by providing advice, expertise and if required, sleeves-rolled-up yakka, in a way which makes practical sense to them, their clients and their stakeholders.

Further information available by contacting skyping ‘pieradvisory’ or calling +618 7200 1414.

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Jeffrey Naqvi
P: +618 7200 1414


2012, law firm, management, recruitment, lawyers, restructuring, communications, marketing, resourcing, legal



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