Brilliant post by Bruce MacEwen in his Adam Smith, Esq. blog (one of my must read blogs). Drawing on a story in Barron’s about the creation, rise and dominance of Lexus in the luxury car market, Bruce hypothesizes about a law firm following the same model:
The Lexus story is the story of an outsider challenging entrenched incumbents by providing something customers would respond to even though the incumbents thought it vaguely beneath them:
- a reliable,
- “perfect” customer experience
- without exotic styling, over-the-top luxury touches (the new Rolls Royce has an umbrella holder built into each rear door; need I say more?), or blistering performance.
Now, imagine an AmLaw 50 firm deciding to emulate Lexus. The mantra switches from things like “best of breed,” “biggest deals,” and “your most arcane problems solved” to “quality,” “reliability,” and the “perfect” client experience. Not “the exotic, the ne plus ultra, head-turning guaranteed,” but “here for you, solid, always dependable.”
Do you think clients would flock to this largely unoccupied positioning? Wouldn’t it be fascinating to watch someone try?
I, for one, would love to. But unlike car owners who routinely turn over their vehicles every few years, inside counsel build relationships and many are loathe to experiment with new relationships, just as they are loathe to try alternative billing and other other “cutting edge” changes in the relationships between clients and their law firms. I hope that resistance is lessening and I hope Bruce’s hypothesis turns out to be on the money.