The shifting economic landscape can be a mystery for law practices—the threat of a recession may have many looking to reduce their workforce or consolidate, while others may take this as an opportunity to expand. As law firms consider their future plans, how can business development intelligence enable strategic decision-making and forward-looking positioning?
Harnessing the Power of Business Intelligence
Before a firm can expand, they must know where they stand. And that’s where business intelligence can provide a unique perspective on how to best position your firm. Through business intelligence tools such as data mining, business analytics and competitive research, firms can make more informed decisions regarding market niches and hiring trends, allowing law firms to effectively plan and execute their marketing strategy plan.
But without a strategy, data is just raw material. A good data strategy should reflect what your business wants to achieve and address a specific business need to help your organization reach its strategic goals and generate real value.
Analyze Future Outcomes
What is the current state of play for your organization? Is your law firm looking to consolidate due to specific industry downturns, or are you looking to expand into another sector or region?
Through powerful business intelligence, firms can gain insight regarding:
- Key clients and key contacts at various companies, including corporate connections
- Lateral partners in a particular practice, industry or geographic region
- Merger partners or acquisition targets and predictions on the outcome of these targets
- Alumni relations, including law school and past experience connections
Is your firm looking to grow? Business intelligence can help firms decide if they want to grow organically or through acquisitions. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and merger history can help determine the success of a potential combination.
Scout Your Competition
When firms look to expand from one market to another, a competitive analysis of other law firms can provide an in-depth analysis of competitors, including law firm alums, attorney tenure, as well as their retention rates.
Law firms may now be looking to be more strategic in their hiring and growth needs. But what do the decreased number of job postings and differences in job openings per practice area show about the current legal market? Firms can leverage this data to improve their growth strategy by utilizing business intelligence.
Business intelligence can inform companies on the increase or decrease from associate to partners—an indication of a possible change in law firm strategy, informing about the current and future legal hiring market.
Effective Hiring Practices
Recent research shows a mixed picture of the U.S. labor market. Headlines are screaming layoffs while unemployment remains low, and the jobs market is still tight. Business intelligence can help best gauge emerging trends in hiring practices, allowing firms to stay on top of emerging situations and note significant changes that could affect their firm.
If one were to look at the hiring data on the surface, that lateral attorney hiring by the Top 200 law firms dropped between 2021 (14,156) and 2022 (12,655) by 14.7% —suggesting that this may be a challenging year ahead. However, if one should look deeper into the data, one would see that the lateral attorney hiring has kept on a normal pace.
Leopard Solutions’ latest state of the industry report has been tracking lateral hires since 2012, and the analysis would indicate that without the pandemic, the lateral hiring in 2022 would have been at the same level as we did. Hence, law firms should not panic and stop hiring completely.
Source: Leopard Solutions, 2022 State of the Legal Industry Webinar, January 2023
By integrating a hiring strategy, firms can use intelligence, such as which practice areas are seeing growth, and which are declining. Has a cooling IPO market slowed the need for merger and acquisition experts? Are bankruptcy specialists in strong demand? Business intelligence can provide a more strategic approach than blank slate hiring.
Another critical element is diversity. An inclusive workforce can provide more innovative and creative solutions. By using business intelligence, firms can measure their efforts against their peers in areas such as gender and ethnic diversity.
Stay Ahead of the Curve
Using competitive and business intelligence, law firms can inform their strategy and stay ahead of their competition. Business development solutions can help law firms stay ahead of the curve through accurate and high-quality data. Using the right business intelligence tool can help track the industry landscape and project which practice areas and the caliber of attorneys to hire.