Long ago, Roscoe Pound, one of the great legal thinkers of the 20th century said that “The law must be stable, but it must not stand still.” He was right. The markets and clients any firm serves keep changing, and if it’s going to be relevant and successful, the firm has to change along with them. To mix metaphors, the legal market is not a placid pond — it’s an ocean, with waves, swells and currents, all of which are simultaneously opportunities and risks. Which means carefully and realistically thinking through the possibility of launching a new practice. Preferably with some smart, experienced help.
When we help firms evaluate a new practice, we treat it like a Silicon Valley startup. We work to help them develop a strategy, and evaluate whether a new practice can succeed, and how. The key to all of this is identifying a sustainable competitive advantage – understanding who you’ll compete with, what your clients need (as opposed to what they may think they need) and how you can position your new capability to win. Gaining a lead is not that useful unless you also understand how you can retain it.
“Position” is a very important word when considering a new practice. If you’re entering a market, how will you position your firm in the minds of your clients? Speed, cost and agility are also paramount. What will it cost to get going? And how prepared will you be to change course when the market dictates it?
Finally, if your new practice is based on a technology or a market, how fast will that change and how will you react? If you’re going to ride a wave, you need to be prepared to shift direction quickly when the wave does. We have helped clients create new practices, new practice groups, and even new firms. We can do the same for you.