For a time, “full-service” was a key point of differentiation for law firms. That may not be true any longer, according to Luke Closson, the managing partner at the law firm of Closson, Bass & Tomberlin.
The law firm is based in Valdosta, Georgia, about 200 miles south of Atlanta and near the border with Florida. A LexisNexis Time Matters customer, the practice focuses on disability and criminal law. Its website states candidly, the firm “is not a full-service firm that deals with every area of the law. We are highly effective at what we do because we focus on a few things.”
This language underscores a subtle but important shift in strategy amid a dynamic legal market. Clients are disrupting the business of law arguably because the penetration of technology among consumers has raised expectations for businesses across industries, including the legal market.
Recently we caught up with Mr. Closson to ask him how technology has affected his law business:
1. Law practice specialization thrives.
One-size fits all does not fit a small law firm well. Mr. Closson believes carving out a niche in the legal practice is proving to be an effective business approach for his law firm. “The focus and pace of law has changed – by that I mean no longer can one be a generalist – specialization is mandated by the demands of the marketplace,” he said.
2. Law firm clients demand speed.
Responsiveness is crucial in converting new law firm prospects to clients. For example, leads convert 22 times more often if you respond to a client inquiry within minutes. Mr. Closson however also sees this trend spilling over into client service.
“The demand also is upon speed – years ago the practice was sedate – now clients expect and demand responses within hours,” said Mr. Closson. “Time Matters permits me to keep up with a much larger caseload than I otherwise would ever be able to and still sleep at night not worrying that some file is slipping through the cracks.”
3. Pricing the most significant law firm challenge.
Clients have long sought “the most bang they can get for their buck” in retaining legal services, but the shift Mr. Closson sees in pricing also carries a pressure to provide high quality legal service and to do so amid a competitive market.
The most significant challenge is “keeping up with the demand for quality work at bargain prices – the demand for rapid response,” even the firm faces “competition from all over the state,” he said.
4. Small law defies geographic boundaries.
“The practice is also becoming much less local as the internet permits a presence in multiple places easily,” said Mr. Closson. It’s a head nod to the notion that even while the firm now faces competition from other law firms all over the state, it too is able to reach out and provide services beyond the firm’s local area.
Photo credit: Both images courtesy of Closson, Bass & Tomberlin.
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