September 01, 2019

Are Your Biggest Clients Really Your Best Clients?

Learn to determine which clients are most profitable for your firm.

Jeff Schwarz

During engagements, I routinely ask firms how they identify their “best” clients. And I receive a wide range of answers, which makes it an interesting exercise. Some firms say it’s those with the highest billings. Others claim it’s clients that give them the most high-value or bet-the-company work. Still others add in factors like prompt payment; a steady stream of work, enough to keep many attorneys busy; and those who don’t ask for huge discounts.

Many of these answers have their roots in the “legal value pyramid.” For many years proponents argued that law firms should look at their roster of clients as if it were a pyramid, with commodity work at the bottom and the highest-paid and bet-the-company work at the top. The goal was to climb to the top of the pyramid and snag the “best” work while shedding commodity work.

A 21st-Century Approach

I have a different perspective. To succeed in today’s legal marketplace, firms need to rethink how they identify their best clients. Success will come to those who adopt an approach that’s attuned to the realities of the marketplace and the demands of their customers.

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