I’d highly recommend Jordan Furlong‘s new book, “Law is a Buyer’s Market – Building a Client-First Law Firm”.
Furlong argues that firms should answer ‘the why?’ question with a statement around creating client success. He states that this approach is congruent with the pursuit of professionalism and will enable the firm to withstand the challenges of increased competition and rapid technology change. Furlong suggests that firms adopt a client-centric purpose statement, something like, “our firm exists to serve the interests of clients in our chosen markets by addressing their legal challenges and opportunities so that those clients can achieve their objectives”.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to road-test Furlong’s recommendations in a client strategy workshop. It became clear quite early on in the workshop that while there was strong resonance with a client-centric purpose, it didn’t tell the full story for this firm. They felt that defining purpose solely on clients risked making them client-compelled in areas like pricing and write-offs, and, interestingly, less likely to innovate. They cited numerous examples of innovative ideas that didn’t come directly from clients expressing their needs, but rather from an intrinsic desire to do better than competitors.
To help things along, I presented SEVEN related, yet distinct, purpose statement option:
- Client-centric: our firm exists to make our clients more successful.
- Business-centric: our firm exists to maximise returns to shareholders.
- People-centric: our firm exists for our partners and staff to practise their craft, earn the respect of their clients and peers, and make a good living. In short, the firm is about fun, fame and fortune.
- Community-entric: our firm exists to add value to the communities we serve.
- Benefit-centric: our firm exists to reduce and manage risk.
- Quality-centric: our firm exists to make all other firms look second-rate.
- Innovation-centric: our firm exists to set precedent, break new ground and pioneer new products and processes.
I’m happy to report that we came up with a hybrid version that everyone was very excited about. Sorry, I can’t share it here in this post.
Which one of these options, or combination, best describes YOUR firm’s purpose?