As law firms begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, many of them are considering or reconsidering whether membership in a network should be part of their strategy for the 2020s.
Our clients have told us that four blog articles, first published seven years ago, have given them a good intellectual framework for their discussions and decision making. They remain among our most frequently-accessed items at Walker Clark World View.
Understanding the Investment in Professional Services Networks (23 April 2014)
Many law firms underestimate the investment needed for a network relationship to deliver results.
"The largest portion of the investment usually is the value of partner or shareholder time. In our experience advising law firms on network participation, we have observed a clear and direct correlation between the value of partner time invested and the total tangible value that the firm receives from network membership."
Does Your Network Deliver External Value? (27 April 2014)
Would I want to join a network that would have me as a member?
"When considering whether to join or remain in a network, law firm partners should examine the extent to which, if at all, there are realistic opportunities for synergy with other network members, as well as whether the network is structured and operates in a way that facilitates synergy rather than inhibits it. If networks want to retain their best members, it will become increasingly important for them to provide energetic support for real synergy in the marketing and delivery of legal services."
A network membership should produce more than just new business.
"Currently, internal value is a largely unknown concept for most networks and their members. Everyone knows (or should know) how participation in a professional services network can deliver external value to a law firm. Law firms should now consider to what extent professional services networks could help them to increase the productivity and profitability of their internal operations."
"As part of our firm's strategic consultation with law firms, we advise them to consider network membership as a strategic tactic, rather than a strategy by itself. In other words, how would participation in a network materially support the achievement of a specific strategic goal for the firm? If the firm has not defined strategic objectives that are specific, measurable, realistic, agreed by all the partners, and defined by time limits, the decision to join a network will be little more than wishful thinking, and the the selection of a network will be little more than guesswork."