We are a small law firm with an extraordinary platform. All partners who have joined the Firm within the past few years have seen between a significant and a dramatic increase in their billings. We know how critical it is for a partner considering which firm to join to have a sense whether his/her new firm will help him in growing his clients. Here is how we do it:
Focus on helping our partners build their careers: As noted elsewhere, we are “about” the lawyers and helping them build their careers. For partners this typically means making sure they have the tools they need to service their clients extremely well. For example, in real estate this means:
• Access to partners with complimentary expertise
• Access to associates to do the work when deals come in thick and fast
• A prestigious brand name so clients find us credible in the applicable practice area
As one of the top real estate law brands we have all of these tools and make them available to partners, new and old. We avoid fiefdoms (and other unpleasant things that often go on in other law firm societies) so that all partners have access to the top associates. We focus on making sure our lawyers and our clients get what they need.
Our flywheel is a powerful competitive advantage: At many law firms a partner (by herself), is responsible for bringing her own clients in the door, servicing those clients, WOW’ing those clients, and building relationships with those clients.
At D&S, all of the lawyers at the Firm work together as a team through use of our flywheel concept. Our flywheel is confidentially, however, the lynchpin of it is that we compartmentalize the different attributes of finding, servicing, and build up client relationships so that each lawyer does what she is best at, rather than being forced to try to do everything as a silo/solo practitioner.
This is the reason we have grown dramatically – it is the reason we routinely turn long-shot marketing chances into happy and growing clients – and ultimately it is the reason that our lateral partners can (all) say (click here for their testimonials), that their business has increased between significantly and dramatically since they joined the Firm.
The partners trust each other – and even like each other: We are very happy that our partners trust each other – and even like each other, including many close friendships. We actually look forward to partners lunches, partner dinners, Firm outings and other times that we can be together. Many of us have our closest friends as other partners. It makes coming to work fun rather than a chore.
Since we have a basic element of trust – built up over being partners together for so many years – this fosters a spirit of strong cooperation.
We share credit for clients: As much as possible, we like to avoid partners having their “own” clients. Instead, we hope that as much as possible all clients will be clients of the group. Of course there are strong personal relationships with clients, but as much as possible we “pool our tips”.
This is because we believe that the concept that he or she who brought in the client gets the lion’s share of the upside is outdated and destructive. It is akin to a corporation in which the salesman gets most of the profit, yet those who develop the product and service the customers get very little. That is simply foolish and we think should not be the case in the legal world either. More about Reinventing the Law Business >
Of course rainmakers and rainmaking is hugely respected, however, it is on par with having super-talent and super-expertise to service the clients that are brought in the door. One without the other is useless. Indeed without a great service partner the rainmaker is just like a dog that caught the bus – what happens now to the client? Ultimately the concepts of rainmaking and servicing clients are yin and yang, and we hope we have developed a solid (magic?) formula for fairly allocating the upside of a client relationship so that all involved attorneys are motivated and eager to service the client well and grow the relationship.
Our clients will validate this – they are consistently impressed that all partners seize the initiative and work to WOW the client, irrespective whether it seems to be “their” client or not.
Our Business Development and Client Relations Group is Here to Assist – And in a Big Way: Our Business Development and Client Relations Group consists of our managing partner, Bruce Stachenfeld and our business development/client relations team. The team is here to help partners succeed by:
• Helping bring in new clients
• Expanding existing clients
• Developing innovative marketing ideas
Please review the partner testimonials. You will notice validating statements from the lateral partners who have joined us as to how our Business Development and Client Relations Group has been very helpful to them in growing their practices.
The Mission to Build Our Client’s Business Is a Powerful Force: One of our unique value propositions is that we are here to help our clients grow their businesses (in transactional work) and protect their businesses (in litigation work). Properly used, this often converts a potential client into a client and/or converts a small client into a major and loyal long-term client. Here is an example:
We have a highly-regarded client that is seeking a strategic investor to take it to “the next level”. This client is seeking a financial partner that will simultaneously be able to: invest in the client’s platform – invest in transactions as they occur – and then provide financial and strategic assistance for the client to ultimately attain a public exit. To help, we brought the client a list of roughly 20 possible strategic investors (most of them clients), which the client narrowed down to roughly 10. Of these parties, 7 have met with, or are scheduled to meet with, our client. To say our client is ecstatic is a severe understatement.
And we do this kind of thing every single day – there are always multiple clients trying to achieve their business goals and we work to help them do it. We live and breathe our clients and join their “team” – growing their businesses is the essence of what we are about. We do not see this type of service at our competitor law firms.
We make the team available to partners as needed: One thing that can be truly “awful” for a partner is the partner finally brings in a new client but the firm he works at will not or cannot provide the necessary associate or partners support and, accordingly, substandard work is performed and the client is lost – this is heartbreaking. Once again, we do the opposite of this.
Since effectively we all believe that all clients are everyone’s clients, we are all incentivized to do what is needed to WOW the client. One way or another we go the extra miles to WOW the client. Partners are uniformly very pleased that the team has their back in this critical area.
We have many lawyers here with great law school pedigree: We are the first to admit that going to a great law school does not necessarily delineate who the great lawyers will be; indeed, there are many examples of fantastic industry-leading lawyers who went to modest law schools.
However, we are proud to mention that many of our partners are graduates of the top law schools in the U.S., including the following:
Harvard Law School:
Over 25% of the equity partners of the firm are graduates of Harvard Law School. These include: the firm’s founder, and former head of the real estate group, Bruce Stachenfeld – the head of our tax department, Stephen Land – the head of our litigation department, Allan Taffet – and the head of our not-for-profit practice, David Samuels.
Additional Alum From Top 10 Law Schools
In addition to our Harvard Law School alum, we have eleven attorneys that graduated from Yale Law School, Columbia University School of Law, New York University school of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School and Duke University School of Law.
WOW: We have a mission to WOW our clients. We also have a mission to WOW our colleagues. A lateral partner really truly did say a week
after he arrived “I thought I’d died and gone to heaven”. That really is part of our mission – to WOW our colleagues and for them to have
the view that they have come to the best possible place for both them and their clients to succeed.