Legal Management in the past

Legal Management in the past

In the 1980s, the market, according to John S. Smock in his article titled “Confessions of a Law Firm Management Consultant –
My Twenty Years Before the Mast” were the following:

I found that the translation from leading, marketing, and managing a large management consulting practice to consulting to the legal profession was relatively easy. Quite simply, the differences are considerably less pronounced than working in the electric utility industry one day and the food processing industry the next. But the marketplace differences were significant. Where virtually every other industry had used and worked with consultants, very few law firms had – and even fewer had done so effectively. Thus, there was little understanding of where (or where not) a consultant could add value – particularly in a strategic sense – to a law firm.
• Many of the clients or firms that we initially talked to or served were slaves to the mantra that “this is a profession, not a business.” My first conclusion, then – as it is today – was that, no, a law firm is not a profession, it is very much a business that provides professional services – and has always been so.
• The other mantra that we often heard was “all you have to do is very, very good work and the world will beat path to your door.” That assertion had ceased to be true for the accounting profession in the 1970s and was ceasing to be true for law firms in the 80s. Many law firm managers did not recognize then, and some still do not recognize now, that the very, very good work (that is, the highest quality work) is the price of admission to market leadership and professional recognition. You have to be very good attorneys to succeed, but long term success in the legal marketplace takes a good bit more than just being a very good attorney. And, attorneys do not learn those additional things required for success in law school.
• There was almost an unhealthy aversion to marketing – described, then, as unprofessional – although every good firm had always marketed and marketed very effectively – they just did not call it that. In fact, one of our first assignments at Smock