It can be difficult for a small or medium sized firm to compete with the bigger firms. Large law firms are powerhouses of content and distribution machines. However, the recent Peer Monitor Index shows demand for legal services dropped for the first time since 2013.

What does this mean for small and mid-sized firms if the giants are seeing a loss in demand? Probably better things that you’d initially think!

No doubt, the big firms are sweating it out. Especially considering several of these firms are working to increase headcount. The legal market is more competitive than ever and the dip in demand will mean firms are competing against each other to:

  1. retain the work they have and
  2. attract profitable clients away competitors

This drop also shows the change in the mindset of the legal consumer. According to the report:

“Demand — as defined as the growth in billable hours — for large law firm services fell for the first time in nearly three years…”

Legal consumers have been asking for law to better match their business. Firms have been slow to make real changes though that affect efficiency and offer alternative fee arrangements. The decrease in demand could very well be the consumer looking for better alternatives.

For firms that can encourage their attorneys to blog in a way that is engaging and educational, competing with the larger firms can be easier now than ever.

Not only could bloggers use their blog to showcase their expertise, but they can use their networks to brainstorm alternative ways to satisfy their clients. They can crowdsource profitable alternatives to approaching the business of law to stay relevant. They can engage with their clients to get a better understanding of client needs versus billing hours. A blog could be an opportunity for partnership rather than just billable hours.

Less spend at the larger firms allows for smaller firms to get a word in. This slump can be a chance to differentiate from the bigger firms.  Can your attorneys:

  • Nurture current client relationships by showing they understand the business?
  • Build new relationships by highlighting and networking with potential clients?
  • Tell the story of how their expertise is available without the big firm overhead costs?

This is not about posting content on a site – 90% of large law is already doing that. Blogging is not about SEO or impressing search engines.

To be truly effective, your attorneys will need to build a network and nurture it through writing. A successful blog  has a specific audience in mind (who are the top 5 clients you’d like to attract?). It has a strategy set (how will you prove your value over your competition?). And the tactics are specifically set to offer up information and thought leadership to the people who matter – the audience.

This drop in demand means we’ll likely see a fear based tightening of the belts in the larger firms as they try to respond. It also means there’s a fantastic opportunity for smaller firms to participate in a more competitive arena.
May the best firm win.