Dealing with the Profitability Squeeze: a Report from the 2012 LAW Annual Meeting
Lawyers Associated Worldwide (“LAW”) conducted its 2012 Annual General Meeting (“AGM”) in Auckland, New Zealand. TheLAW members affectionately refer to Auckland as the “last bus stop” because the delegates from New Zealand usually travel the farthest and endure the most connections to attend the regional and annual meetings. Having made the 28 and 30 hour trips there and back, the last bus stop reference is appropriate. The 2012 annual meeting was an extraordinary event and our thanks and congratulations go out to Brian Everett and the Duthie Whyte firm in Auckland for hosting this event. The success is due in large part to the considerable time and effort expended to develop an agenda focused on meaningful presentations.
The 2012 LAW AGM’s keynote speaker was Patrick St. John, Global Head of the Finance, Real Estate and Projects Practices of Herbert Smith Freehills, Sydney, Australia, which has approximately 600 attorneys in Australia and Europe. The topic was “Challenges to Profitability and Changes in the Australian Legal Market.” Although Attorney St. John directed his comments to theLAW delegates, the current economic conditions have put pressure on profits for all businesses worldwide.
St. John proposes 4 strategies to deal with the profitability squeeze. These strategies are:
Market Strategy: focus on your industry expertise; identify priority customers and their needs today and anticipated needs tomorrow; prioritize your company’s products and services and cater to the priority customers. Your company cannot be all things to all people. Identify your industry expertise and play to your strength.
Pricing Strategy: Get better at talking about price and value. Customers appreciate value. You may have to become more adept at explaining why your products and services offer better value as justification for your pricing.
Cost Strategies: Outsourcing is everywhere. If you can achieve better value from outsourcing, it will be available. However, do not fail to consider “in-sourcing.” Can you develop lower cost in-house profit centers to deal with IT, shipping, R&D, customer satisfaction and other links in the development, production and marketing chain?
People Strategies: Invest in skills [not just production or technical skills and not just management level personnel] to improve everything from health and fitness to communication skills; actively manage underperformance. Every employee is, or can be, part of quality and productivity improvement and business development.
LAW is a global association of over 100 independent law firms with offices in more than 150 commercial centers around the world. The Knox Firm’s membership in LAW allows us to service the legal needs of clients who are expanding operations and relationships into new domestic or foreign markets. Member firms are full-service business law firms with depth and expertise to assist clients with all of their business and litigation needs. Each member firm must satisfy service, capability and reliability standards and undergoes a due diligence review prior to admission. The expertise and knowledge of the customs and practices within each member firm’s respective jurisdiction is invaluable.
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