"Why couldn't we just do this ourselves?"

My colleagues and I at Walker Clark LLC are frequently asked this question when we submit a consulting proposal to a prospective client.

Our answer usually is something like:

"You haven't done it so far. What makes you believe that you can do it now?"

We try to be a little more diplomatic than that, but the "do it yourself" mentality that some law firms have -- especially small ones -- raises several important points about law firms and consulting services.

There are three flaws in the DIY mentality that need to be remembered.

  • DIY usually takes much longer.

One of the advantages of outside help is that you and your partners do not have to figure out what to do and how to do it before getting to work. This is why our firm, for example, can guide a law firm through an in-depth sophisticated strategic planning process in 45 to 60 days. By contrast, many DIY strategic planning efforts fizzle out, or drag on for six months or longer, without producing significant results.

  • DIY devalues the worth of partner time.

The scarcest and most valuable resource in any law firm is the time of the partners. It's valuable because of the expertise and earning potential it represents. It is true that most law firm partners could figure out how to do a strategic plan, or a merger with another law firm, or a new partner compensation plan, by themselves. However, this is not the best use of their time. The efficiencies gained by having an outside expert facilitate the process and do much of the intellectual "heavy lifting" can save partners literally hundreds of hours of their time.

  • DIY seldom produces the best possible return on investment.

Home-made efforts usually produce homely results.

I cannot speak for other consultants and vendors to the legal profession, but Walker Clark LLC will not even propose an engagement unless we already know that our work will produce a substantial, measurable return on investment that is far more than our consulting fees and the value of the time of the partners who work with us during the project. Moreover, we look for ways to add sustainable long-term value, and not just a quick fix.

Our clients tell us that the international perspectives and our years of experience add a resource that they simply do not have, but which sometimes can make a big difference between the best possible results and disappointing ones.

Can you do it yourself? Probably.

But don't you have better things to do with your time?

Norman Clark