How To Use Law Firm Intelligence To Create A Sustainable Advantage

Competitive Intelligence4What do extraordinary law firms and legal recruiters have that other, less successful businesses don’t? A sustainable competitive advantage. A sustainable competitive advantage is an advantage that you have over competitors that cannot be easily copied and that can be maintained over an extended period of time. But how do you develop and keep this type of advantage using competitive intelligence? Below are a few strategies:

Some Types of Advantage

Location and Client Access:  Are you the only law firm serving clients in a particular city/town? Or, do you have an in-point into a particular customer base (i.e. immigrants, ethnic minority groups etc.)? If so, then you have a competitive advantage that might be sustainable. Take a look at your most important competitors; have they left a door open for you to seize prominence in a certain location or community? Use competitive intelligence tools such as Leopard Firmscape to find competing firms in your city or region, and then investigate how deep their market penetration is. Did they recently open a new office? Expand to a new practice area? Or, encroach on your territory? Your competitive intelligence data gathering should help you uncover if you’re gaining (or losing) your competitive advantage.

Client Loyalty:  Having clients who return to work with you repeatedly is a competitive advantage that’s not easily duplicated. Take a look back at your client relations, how many of your clients do long-term business with your company? If you’re a legal recruiter, how many employers repeatedly give you job orders? If you’re a law firm, how many clients repeatedly call on you for legal services or refer you to others? How loyal are your competitor’s clients? Using Law Firm Profiles take a look at current and past press releases and news items related to your most important competitors’ clients and find out how loyal their customers really are. If you find that you have an unusually loyal client-base, then you probably have a sustainable competitive advantage.

Information Access: Data is power, especially in a society that is becoming increasingly knowledge-based. If you have access to important but difficult to find information, this could be a sustainable advantage. This difficult but important information could be in the form of the attorneys you hire or even consultants you have special access to. For example, if there is an emerging practice area, you may develop a competitive advantage by hiring the most skilled attorneys in that niche. Using competitive intelligence tools such as Leopard Firmscape, try to identify which attorneys have skills and information that’s in short supply and consider getting them on your team to create a sustainable competitive advantage.

Unique Services:  Providing services that are high quality can give you a sustainable advantage because it’s something that is difficult to do consistently.  Identify how your legal or recruiting services exceed the quality offered by your competitors and then develop a reputation for excellence. While this type of sustainable competitive advantage can take considerable time to develop, it’s probably one of the most difficult things to emulate and therefore the most valuable. So if you can achieve a reputation for excellence you can develop an advantage few competitors will be able to emulate.

As you work to develop your competitive advantage, remember that it’s only limited by your imagination and the expectations you impose. Some of the best competitive advantages are those that no competitor has thought of before.

Four Cold Calling Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

While the use of social media has grown amongst legal recruiters, cold calling is still the heart of finding clients. But despite its important nature, many legal recruiters still make fatal cold calling mistakes. Let’s take a closer look at four cold calling mistakes and how you can avoid them:

Mistake #1 – Talking to the wrong person.

Cold calling is effective, but only when you’re talking to the person who can make decisions. Before picking up the phone, do your homework to find out who the decision makers are. Always be polite with gatekeepers but don’t waste your sales pitch on them, save that for the person who makes the hiring decisions.

Mistake #2 – Debating with the hiring manager.

When calling a potential client, you want them to see things your way. That’s natural. But it’s a mistake to enter into a debate. If the potential client says something you don’t agree with, avoid trying to correct them, especially if the statement is about their business. Remember, disagreement will almost always come across as arguing.

Mistake #3 – Not understanding your service.

One of the most deadly cold calling mistakes you can make is failing to prepare for questions about your recruiting service. Before you pick up the phone, think about what type of questions the client will have and be prepared to answer in a way that will satisfy their core concerns.

Mistake #4 – Meandering on the phone.

Every cold call should be quick, concise and to the point. Pitch your service, answer client inquiries and then ask for the sale. Don’t drag the conversation out.

How To Interview A Potential Employer

Before you head off to your next job interview, remember that you’re also interviewing the employer. Because you’re not just looking for a job, but a career, you’ll need to make sure that they’re the right match for you. Below are some of the most important questions to ask when interviewing an employer:

How did your last employee work out?

Whether you’re the second or tenth person to fill a new position, you must find out how the previous worker performed, why they left, and what conflicts existed when they were employed at the firm. The answers to these questions will help you understand the employer’s real expectations, potential problems you may face, and whether the position is a coveted one or something everyone avoids.

How do you expect this position to change over the next year?

While everyone hopes that they’re getting the job they applied for, the truth is that some employers use bait and switch tactics. To avoid taking a job that radically changes after you’re hired, find out what changes the employer expects to make. If they mention changes that would increase your responsibilities, ask if compensation will also increase.

What type of cases did the previous attorney work on?

With any attorney position, there are ideal cases and typical cases. You want to find out what the typical case is for your position. It’s the typical case that you’ll be faced with on a daily basis. So, if you’re looking for specific day-to-day experience, pay close attention to what the typical day looks like for someone working in that position.


Recruiter Corner: How To Be Productive and Still Have a Life

For independent recruiters branching out on their own, being productive is critical to finding success. But can you be productive and still have a life? Yes, but you’ll need to adjust a few habits and ideas. Below are a few tips:

  1. Value every minute. The first step to being productive and still maintaining a life outside of work is to begin looking at your life in increments of minutes. Many recruiters wanting to improve productivity focus on hours, days and weeks, but this ignores the fact that you can get a lot done in just a few minutes. To get more done, squeeze the small tasks into the spare minutes in your day.
  2. Focus and avoid distractions. For years, productivity experts encouraged workers to multitask. The common wisdom was that if you could do more than one thing at a time, you would ultimately get more done. Well, the truth is that unless you have two brains, doing multiple tasks can slow you down. So instead of trying to do two or more tasks at once, you should focus on a single task and avoid any distractions.
  3. Take your breaks – all of them. Working 24/7 is not only tiring, it’s counterproductive. You’re less likely to finish tasks accurately if you’re tired. That’s why it’s important that you take periodic breaks throughout the day to recharge your batteries. It’s okay to work extra once in a while, but making overtime a habit can lead to burnout.
  4. Take a vacation. Just as periodic breaks help you recharge, taking a real vacation will help you maintain your health and sanity. By having prescheduled days off, you’re less likely to procrastinate because you know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel of work. Even if you’re a stickler for working weekends, try to schedule at least one weekend off a month.

Three Unconventional Job Search Tips You Should Follow

Most job search tips are standard and common sense, wear business attire, follow-up, and prepare for the interview. But there are a few helpful tips that are just as useful, even if they’re a little unconventional. Let’s take a closer look at a few unusual but useful job search tips for attorneys:

  1. Look for your blind spots. In the job market, you’re encouraged to take on the position of expert. So, it’s natural that you’ll want to show legal recruiters and hiring managers that you know your stuff. But watch out, you have a blind spots that could stagnate your search. That’s why it’s important to identify your blind spots and then take action to correct them.  Are you lacking skills that are growing in importance? Are you behind the times in learning about the latest developments in your practice area? Whatever your blind spot, make sure you’re seeking out good advice so that you can correct them.
  2. Research the law firm BEFORE you apply. Most job seekers rush to apply for open positions as soon as they see them because they want to be the first resume on the recruiter or hiring manager’s desk. But this could be a mistake, especially if you later learn that the law firm is not for you. A better strategy is to thoroughly investigate the law firm before applying. Research the firm’s history, their strengths and weaknesses. Look into the background of the attorney’s working there and most importantly figure out how working at the law firm will advance your career.
  3. Apply for the job that will get you to your future destination. It’s easy to get caught up in finding the perfect job today. But what’s more important than finding your perfect job is fining the job that will help you get to your future destination. Ask yourself, where do you want to be in five years? Will working at this firm help you get the experience and skills you need to reach your career goals? If not, you may want to keep looking for the right match.

Five Things Competitive Intelligence Technology Should Do For You

Competitive IntelligenceConducting an effective and useful competitive intelligence program is critical to long-term success in the legal industry. But if you want to do it right, you’ll need the right technology in place. Below are a few things that your competitive intelligence tech should do for you.

Provide Timely and Accurate Data

The most important element of effective competitive intelligence technology is that it provides data which is up-to-date and accurate. Law firm intelligence tools Leopard Firmscape fit the bill in that aspect because it pulls data from reliable sources for over 1700 law firms. And that data is constantly updated based on the most recent information available. Without accurate data as the foundation of your competitive intelligence strategy you could find yourself making decisions based on inaccurate or outdated information.

Provide An Overview Of The Legal Industry

Your competitive intelligence strategy will be incomplete and myopic if it only includes examining your competitors. For a more holistic approach, you’ll need to also take a bird’s-eye-view of the entire industry. What trends are emerging? Who are the latest losers and winners? What changes in the larger society are shaping the legal industry? Use Leopard Hot Spot to get updated news on the legal industry, and visit Law Firm Profiles to get a closer look at how individual firms are being impacted.

Allow You To Spy On Competitors

Solid competitive intelligence software will give you the ability to spy on your competition the legal way. Tools like Leopard Firmscape allow you to take an in-depth look at your competitor’s business. Who are they hiring? And which law schools did those attorneys attend? Which practice areas are other law firms focusing on and which are they letting contract? With this type of in-depth knowledge about your competitors you can make decisions that are more likely to benefit you.

Help You Make Financial Projections

At the end of the day, you want your competitive intelligence tools to give you data that will help you make financial projections. For example, if your research reveals that your practice area is in decline, then you can project that revenues may fall if you don’t refocus your energy on more lucrative areas. The same can be said for looking at the financial positioning of your competitors. Are they hemmed into a stalling specialty? Have they overextended themselves by expanding too much and too fast? If so, they may be financially overstretched, giving you the perfect opportunity to snag market share they’re unable to capture.

Help You Conduct Accurate Market Research

Smart competitive intelligence tools will help you conduct accurate market research. Tools like Leopard Firmscape will provide answers to questions such as, which practice areas are thriving? Which regions of the country are experiencing an increased demand for attorneys? And which law firms are rising stars? And it will also allow you to do this research easily and on an ongoing basis by providing dynamic information that updates quickly so that you’re always one step ahead of your competitors.

And if you want to stay competitive, you’ll need to leverage only the best competitive intelligence technology in the industry.

How To Overcome The Pitfalls of Perfectionism When Recruiting

Searching for the perfect candidate and not making much progress? Well, it could be that you (or the hiring manager) have unrealistic expectations. Reaching for the stars when it comes to talent is understandable, but don’t let perfectionism put the brakes on filling an open position. Below are a few tips on how to overcome perfectionism and still recruit the right talent:

  1. Do a reality-based assessment of the job market. Is there a shortage of attorneys who have the skills required for your position? If so, you may need to discuss making adjustments to the job order’s skills/experience requirements or steel yourself for a long, hard journey to filling the position.
  2. Prioritize all talent who meet most, if not all, of the job order requirements. This is especially important if you’re facing a skills shortage in the talent marketplace. By keeping your standards as inclusive as possible, you’ll give the employer more options to work with.
  3. Determine which job order requirements are the most important, and then focus on candidates who meet those critical standards. Be willing to review the resumes of job candidates who meet the most important requirements of the position even if they fall short of fulfilling the employer’s less important requirements.
  4. Sell the job candidate’s potential. If you’re finding it difficult to recruit the dream candidate, don’t give up. Identify talented candidates who have the ability and willingness to grow, and then pitch that to the hiring manager.

Even if the employer is sold on finding the “perfect” candidate, your recruiting strategy should always focus on finding the candidate who will get the job done.

5 Ways Lawyers Can Improve Job Security

Whether you’re a veteran attorney or a newbie, job security is becoming more of an issue as the legal industry changes. But that doesn’t mean that you have to passively stand aside waiting for your pink slip. There are a few things you can do to improve your job security. Below are a few tips:

  1. Cross-train for multiple functions at your law firm and make sure you have a book of business. Attorneys who are indispensible on multiple fronts and who contribute to the bottom-line are less likely to be fired.
  2. Toot your own horn. Don’t be quiet about your accomplishments. Network with the right people (decision makers) at your firm and make sure they know how you’re contributing to the company. You should also keep a written record of your accomplishments and bring them up during annual reviews.
  3. Be a problem solver. Strategically volunteer for projects that will help solve problems facing your law firm.  But make sure you finish what you start. Starting and failing to finish projects is worse than not volunteering at all.
  4. Continue your education and development indefinitely. The legal industry is always changing so you should too. Expand your skills and experience so that your expertise is never outdated.
  5. Keep your walking papers in order. One of the best ways to improve your job security is by making sure that you remain a marketable candidate. Constantly examine the needs of the legal marketplace and make sure you meet the requirements of today’s employers.

Recruiter Corner: Five Ways To Increase Your Sales Productivity

No matter how good you are at sourcing, sales are the lifeblood of the recruiting business. And if you want to increase the revenue of your recruiter firm, you’ll need to improve your sales productivity. Below are a few tips:

  1. Focus on the best prospects. On the one hand, sales are a volume business. But no matter how many cold calls you make, you won’t close one deal if you’re focused on the wrong type of prospects. Figure out what type of customers you want to work with and then focus all of your energy on only those people.
  2. Cut loose tire-kickers. Once you discover that a prospect isn’t really interested in buying your services, cut them loose immediately no matter where you are in the sales process. The rule of getting sales is to only talk to those prospects ready to buy now.
  3. Cold call consistently. No matter how good of a salesperson you are, you won’t close enough deals if you’re not cold calling consistently. Set aside a specific number of hours each week to sell your recruiter services and stick to your schedule.
  4. Go for the big dollars. It’s just as easy to sell a prospect on a $5,000 deal as it is to sell them on a $1,000 deal, so focus on the big dollars and the long-term.
  5. Be a solution provider. When selling services, position yourself as a solution provider. Ask questions that will give you insight into what problems your prospects are facing, then show them how you can solve those problems.

By improving your sales productivity, you can better position your recruiter firm for long-term success.

How Legal Recruiters Can Stay Relevant In A Changing Industry

As more job seekers and employers go online to connect, legal recruiters must work to maintain their relevancy. Leveraging technology and social media can make a recruiter’s job easier, but it’s also a threat to the recruiter’s role a connector. So how can legal recruiters stay relevant in the face of industry change? Below are a few tips:

  1. Understand your customers. Legal recruiters have two customers, job candidates and employers. To stay relevant during massive change you must understand what both of these customers want. And once you figure that out, you must understand why you’re the best person to help them get what they want. For example, while it’s easier for job candidates to find jobs online, it’s a lot more difficult to find those jobs before everyone else. Therefore, a legal recruiter who can consistently deliver quality job opportunities before the general public discovers them will be viewed as valuable in the eyes of top talent.
  2. Reposition your company. If the tastes and desires of your most important customers have changed, consider repositioning your company so that you can deliver what they want. This not only requires a change in the way you do business, but it also demands that you change your branding message.  Make it clear on your website, blog, social media, and other marketing materials that you are now serving the industry’s current needs.
  3. Stick to your guns. The alternative to repositioning your company to stay relevant is sticking to your tried and true business model. Identify the qualities that make you a first choice amongst employers and candidates, and then magnify those qualities. For example, if you’re known for your fast delivery of top quality talent, then maintaining (or improving) your delivery time and quality will help you stay relevant even as the industry changes around you.

There are many ways to stay relevant as a legal recruiter, but the most important is to always recognize that any change could threaten your business. And once you recognize a potential threat, act immediately.