As the legal industry evolves, law firm collaboration becomes more common for both small and large law firms

As the model for delivering legal services continues to evolve, providers must keep up with client demands and market realities. In a post-recession world dominated by new technology, both small and large law firm collaboration makes good business sense.

Collaboration for Small Law Firms

For small law firms, which includes independent practitioners, collaboration is practically synonymous with business development. While it’s possible to operate a single-person law practice, reality dictates that you will need the support of others in order to grow and succeed.

Heidi Gardner, Harvard Law School Scholar, noted that:

“…collaboration can boost a lawyer’s rainmaking capabilities, resulting in higher business development revenues, a heightened personal reputation and stronger client retention.”

She notes that collaboration can also deliver intrinsic rewards, such as creating a legacy or feeling more influential in your field. These rewards transcend profit and can serve as a powerful motivator in the later years of your career.

In our experience, independent lawyers also thrive when they have the support of like-minded peers. This support network can serve as a sounding board, a referral network or direct partnerships on clients and cases.

For small law firms, collaboration can take a number of forms:

  • Partnering with another lawyer in a different practice area
  • Working with other lawyers to present legal seminars, professional development events and more
  • Connecting with a larger firm to provide a niche service
  • Offering services on a nationwide or global scale, in partnership with general counsel or other firms
  • Working with non-law professionals to solve process and technology problems for clients while serving their legal needs

It’s important for small law firms to maintain connections with others in the field, as well as other professionals in the market. These connections, and associated collaborative efforts, help you stay on top of important developments and better serve clients.

Collaboration for Large Law Firms

Large law firms have traditionally shied away from the idea of collaboration. Many established firms view other firms as pure competition and little else. However, if you hold a stakeholder position at a large law firm, you owe it to yourself to revisit the concept of working together toward a bigger goal.

Legal Mosaic urges law firms of all sizes to reconsider how they deliver services, writing:

“…2008’s global fiscal crisis and its fallout accelerated changes in the delivery of legal services…The rules of the road for the delivery of legal services were open to remapping, as client expectations–demands–for greater value, transparency and collaboration became mandatory…”

Firm divisions and status quo approaches no longer adequately serve the needs of legal consumers. So, how can a large firm collaborate and still retain its reputation as a leader in the marketplace? Consider these options:

  • Create a culture of collaboration within your firm
  • Encourage attorneys and staff to look for ways to bridge communication and service gaps for clients
  • Identify areas where non-lawyers, either on-staff or outsourced, can contribute to  process or delivery improvements
  • Collaborate with other local firms on city-wide or statewide issues
  • Work with global firms to offer a niche legal service in your market and abroad
  • Maximize your real estate footprint by leasing office space to small law firms or independent practitioners

Think creatively about both your service offering and your delivery model. Adding more attorneys or staff could help expand your reach. However, you could attain some of those goals through collaboration rather than expansion.

To learn more about LawBank’s real estate solutions for large law firms or office and coworking space for small law firms, contact us today.