Brand Differentiation: Positioning Your Firm as Boutique versus Full-Service

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Is your firm a one-stop shop, or specialty store? Do you offer the services of many, or the focus of one (or a few)? Maybe you could be a little bit of both. Figuring out how to position your company can be a daunting task - both options have their strengths and weaknesses. Let’s take a quick look at some of the perceived considerations.

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Boutique firms tend to attract clients by being able to offer access to senior lawyers, while full-service firms can offer the expertise of lawyers across different practice areas and team-work. How you decide to position your firm is a conversation that needs to be taken seriously. There are valid reasons for choosing either, but be sure to recognize that choosing one over the other may result in certain consequences.

For example, many IP firms have positioned themselves as boutique firms which has been attractive to clients who are in need of only IP services. These clients know that by using a boutique IP firm, they are getting the knowledge and experience of lawyers who focus solely on IP issues, which means they are likely to be more up to date and focused on the latest issues surrounding IP law. Often, those attorneys have previous work experience in technology companies. The downside is that since they don’t offer any other legal services, they cannot help clients who may also need employment, contract or real estate work at the same time. That same client could turn to a firm that would act as general outside counsel for their various business and legal needs.

As a firm, you need to look at the services you currently offer and figure out which category is a better fit. You may want to start by looking at your current client list and determine which type of firm would best suit their needs. Then you can move on to consider potential prospects - are you willing to risk losing current clients at the hope of gaining new ones, or vice versa?

By Kristin Maclay Brunett, Marketing and Business Development Manager at Paley Rothman, for the May/June 2015 issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter.

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