The purpose-driven law firm: What market role does your firm really serve? (Edge Int'l)


Two sharp observations from the business world have direct application to law firms that want to be around for the long run.

First, The Economist magazine recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of IBM. The magazine noted that the ability of a technology company to survive so long, from the days of punch cards to the age of information services, had nothing to do with tech.

“IBM's secret,” the editors wrote, “is that it is built around an idea that transcends any particular product or technology. Its strategy is to package technology for use by businesses. ... Building a company around an idea, rather than a specific technology, makes it easier to adapt when industry platform shifts occur.”

Secondly, columnist Seth Godin recently asked, “What is your company's ‘use case’ — the best use of your product or service, the situation that you're organized around?”

Put differently, what and who is your business for? The answer dictates your activities. “Many organizations will take any customer, any time, and bend and writhe to accommodate money in whatever form it arrives,” says Godin. “Other, happier organizations understand the benefit of optimizing for a certain kind of interaction, and they have the guts to decline the part of the market that doesn't want to use their tool/organization the way it was intended.”

These are existential questions that go to the heart of strategy, and they resonate for law firms caught in a rising marketplace storm.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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