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28 July 2023

Mastering legal communication in an increasingly globalized legal industry

Dalila Hammadi | Ilias Meslohi |
Eliott & Markus

Transparency, communication and coherence are key elements when clients are choosing a law firm.

In May 2023, the potential A&O Shearman was announced, a transformative combination for the two firms if the merger is voted by the partners. The immediate implications for both firms are a greater reach to clients worldwide with added growth to the US market for A&O, and a stronger presence outside the US for Shearman. Should the merger go ahead, a new giant industry leader with global capabilities will be born!

Having a truly international reach and global presence requires the ability to meet international clients’ needs in an increasingly complex global environment, as well as empowering clients to identify and evaluate law firms based on their expertise, reputation, track record and client testimonials. In an increasingly competitive environment, marked by the emergence of new and big players and transformative technologies, as well as the saturation of certain practices, firms need to focus on the added value of their services whilst having a clear communication plan, without losing sight of their ultimate objectives.

So, what does it mean from a global communication perspective?

Navigating a competitive and constantly changing market is a major challenge for law firms. Today, the context is marked by the rapid emergence and adoption of AI, which transforms many sectors on a daily basis, offering endless possibilities for automation, data analysis and advanced decision-making.

With this in mind, it is increasingly important for law firms to pre-empt complex markets in order to seize high value-creating opportunities, which cannot be easily achieved using AI. Firms must be able to develop new approaches, differentiated services and innovative solutions to meet their clients' complex challenges and bring a unique value proposition to the market.

To do so, market leading firms usually tend to structure and present their expertise in a way that makes them relevant to their target market. Having the relevant expertise and experience to the client’s matter when it comes to choosing the right firm, as well as a clear communication strategy is paramount, to allow clients to have a clearer and better understanding of the legal services provided, and differentiate themselves highlighting specialized practice areas.

A well crafted offering sets you apart in a globalized environment

A well-designed offering architecture or in other words a well-defined expertise grid that provides clarity, translating technical complexity into straightforward and explicit presentation will lay the foundations for future expertise, opening up new fields of activity and attracting future talent.

To develop an effective offering architecture, it is essential to clearly define your target clients and markets and adapt your terminology accordingly. It is important to determine whether you want to position yourself in a niche market or offer comprehensive services, while developing solid expertise, taking into account the growth potential of less-developed expertise. It is also crucial to adopt a forwardthinking approach without overlooking promising subjects, even if they represent a small proportion of your current turn over. The important message here is that in increasingly complex and interconnected markets, clients need highly specialized practices and industry sector expertise. One cannot be all things to all clients, but delivering the services needed by clients in specific jurisdictions or in your key market is of critical importance. Clients are becoming more strategic in their working relationship with external counsel – with a growing number reaching out for niche knowledge they cannot source internally.

“Growth is not only the result of the development of new territories, but also the development of new expertise"

ESG initiatives for example have recently garnered significant attention within the corporate world. Clients have shown increased interest in understanding sustainability, ESG and environmental efforts of law firms. According to a Landscape Survey conducted by the Law Firm Sustainability Network, 87% of responding law firms said they receive requests for proposals (RFPs) that include questions about environmental efforts, practices and initiatives.

In our example, a law firm showcasing not only specialized knowledge in, but most importantly commitment to ESG-related topics is an added value, that will surely make a substantial impact on the in-house legal counsels who wish to ensure that their service providers prioritize those issues and have meaningful initiatives to promote these values.

Overall, the balance between readability, capacity, comprehensiveness and attractiveness is essential, and it may be a good idea to seek support in this process to achieve the optimum balance.

Is a clear offering alone enough to make a difference?

Transparency, communication and coherence are key elements when clients are choosing a law firm. If a clear offering architecture is a perfect springboard for showcasing the extent of your expertise from a technical standpoint, it’s not self standing to make a difference from a global firm perspective. This is where the question of your firm’s positioning arises.

Positioning is about instituting and conveying a crystal clear and inclusive messaging platform across your law firm, and throughout your communication channels. (Read more HERE) You can display and reinforce your key message on your website and social media to your clients and prospects. Often when prospective clients are searching for a law firm they have very little time to do so and a search on the internet, the various legal directories and peers recommendations is often where the first opinion is formed.

In summary

Whilst A&O Shearman merger may raise uncertainties in large global law firms, it also brings some food for thought to other domestic firms who might need to question their growth opportunities in an increasingly globalized legal industry. Growth is not only the result of the development of new territories, but also the development of new expertise, the identification and mapping of technical intervention territories in terms of practice areas. We are not referring to growth through geographical expansion, but growth through the extension of technical intervention territories, the development of marketing actions aimed at promoting the law firm's capacity to advise on topical or complex issues.

We have only brushed over a few of these tools in this article, and we would be happy to discuss any of your specific needs to enhance your firm's brand recognition and attract new clients.

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