Announcing the Coalition of Professional Services Providers

Coalition of Professional Services ProvidersWe inhabit a competitive world. Dogs vs. Cats. Star Trek vs. Star Wars. Buyers vs. Sellers. Too often, however, this competitive nature prevents effective collaboration. The newly launched Coalition of Professional Services Providers is a step in the direction of establishing a mutually beneficial relationship between those who offer services and products to professional services firms, and the professional services firms who buy them. In the legal segment, most of the professional associations are exclusive by nature, indeed almost combative. Only practicing lawyers can join this group. Only chief marketing officers can join that group. Only buyers of a specific legal technology product are allowed to join a discussion of the product. And so on. Major conferences often have a bias for in-house professionals as presenters. "We must be protected from vendors trying to sell us something," they say, thereby eliminating input and advice from experts who may have seen 75 implementations of a specific tool or process, in lieu of an in-house practitioner who has deployed the tool only once, in only one organization, and is leveraging the speaking opportunity to find a better paying role. Of course not every in-house presenter has such limited experience and of course they're not all seeking a new job. But if you stipulate to that you must also stipulate that not every vendor is going to rashly use podium time to pitch a product that the audience doesn't need or want and instead will provide useful education and practical takeaways.

"For the low, low price of $10,000 you too can be in the same room with people who might someday influence a buying decision!" says the brochure for the local chapter of a professional legal association, promoting this opportunity to all vendors and service providers as some sort of exclusive benefit that can't be gained otherwise. "For $20,000 you can put your logo on napkins and the president of our association will nod curtly in your direction during the cocktail reception," they breathlessly exclaim. "But there may be no eye contact, and you're not allowed near the podium because of the potential risk that you might begin selling." And my favorite: "You may purchase an expensive advertisement on the back cover of our trade magazine to show your support, but you may not attend the workshop for buyers of your product, where the top agenda item 'If Only We Had a Better Understanding of How to Use the Product' is sure to provoke lively discussions."

While these are somewhat exaggerated, they ring true for many of us who have been on both sides of the buyer/seller equation. What's missing in some cases is a sense of collaboration, an understanding not just that we need each other, but how best to utilize each other. Clients can be great catalysts for new and innovative ideas, features, and functions, just as vendors and consultants can share time-tested best practices with clients who are behind the learning curve. A service provider that doesn't heed client input is no more absurd than a client needlessly pursuing a long, lonely learning curve on some new technology without any guidance whatsoever.

And so several of us put our heads together and decided to launch a new initiative. The Coalition of Professional Services Providers is designed to jump start this dialog. The in-house practitioners have several professional associations through which they can collaborate, communicate, network, and learn. And while some of these associations warmly embrace consultants and service providers as members, most don't. CoPSP serves as a platform for those providing services and products to come together and communicate on what's working and what can be improved, to collaborate on best practices, to work with other associations to develop mutually beneficial sponsorships, to help newcomers to the field learn how to market and sell to the professional services segment, and to provide resources and training.

The Coalition of Professional Services Providers (CoPSP) is an organization dedicated to advancing the interests of solution providers that work with the legal and professional services communities. It is governed by members, for members, all of whom stand in alignment around the following principles:

  • Passionate about continuous improvement – for ourselves and our ability to serve clients and customers – and for our clients and colleagues
  • Committed to transparency in the way business is transacted
  • Access to quality and relevant education that advances personal and professional development for members
  • A community of peers is critical for success
  • Advocacy on important issues gives us a collective presence, stronger voice, and greater influence

We hope you join for the ride.

More information here. Apply here. Facebook here. Join the LinkedIn Group here. Follow on LinkedIn here. Twitter here.

Timothy B. Corcoran was the 2014 President of the Legal Marketing Association and is an elected Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. He delivers keynote presentations, conducts workshops, and advises leaders of law firms, in-house legal departments and legal service providers on how to profit in a time of great change. For more information, contact him at +1.609.557.7311 or at tim@corcoranconsultinggroup.com.

More Project Management & Process Improvement Courses Added

Due to increasing demand, we are now offering additional dates to attend the Legal Lean Sigma Institute instructional courses in Process Improvement and Project Management. The highly interactive, experiential-learning courses combined lecture with hands-on experience to illustrate the effectiveness of the tools and methodologies. Our past attendees have cited the practicality of the course, the benefit of collaborating with others facing similar challenges, and the variety of perspectives we and other participants share -- these courses are ideal for law firm partners, law firm associates, finance professionals, marketing & business development professionals, corporate General Counsel, in-house counsel, procurement professionals, and both novice and experienced practitioners of either project management or process improvement. While most of our work is customized and delivered privately to law departments and law firms, these pubic open-enrollment courses provide a great opportunity to see the ideas in action, to interact with similarly situated colleagues facing the same resistance and catalysts to change, and to gain a better understanding of how and at what pace to roll out such an initiative in your organization.

Our next open enrollment white belt certification course is a one-day workshop, held in Los Angeles on May 24, 2016, and hosted by the law firm of Greenberg Glusker.

Our next open enrollment yellow belt certification is a two-day workshop, held in Boston on July 26-27, 2016, and hosted by Suffolk Law School.

For more details on costs and registration, click here. For more information on process improvement and project management, click here and here and here.

 

Timothy B. Corcoran was the 2014 President of the Legal Marketing Association and is an elected Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. He delivers keynote presentations, conducts workshops, and advises leaders of law firms, in-house legal departments and legal service providers on how to profit in a time of great change. For more information, contact him at +1.609.557.7311 or at tim@corcoranconsultinggroup.com.

Useful Metrics & Benchmarking

The path to success in a law firm or law department has changed, yet many continue to rely on outdated metrics to track performance. Both buyers (law departments) and sellers (law firms) rely on billable hours as a proxy for productivity and value. This is silly. Sure, hours are a unit of production and law firm leaders should be aware of what it costs to produce the output of legal work. And yes, law department leaders should be aware of what they're purchasing. But if I visit the grocery store with a list of 47 specific items, I don't necessarily declare victory if I return home with 45 or 35 items, or 47 completely different items that cost less. I've also written previously about the lazy reliance on benchmarks -- relying on dissimilar metrics from dissimilar organizations in dissimilar markets with dissimilar characteristics is a recipe for mediocrity. A general counsel declaring that "We should reduce legal spend to 1.3% of revenues just like our competitors in the same SIC code" is as short-sighted as a managing partner stating that "We need to reduce our secretarial ratio to 4:1 to keep pace with more nimble competitors." There are a hundred factors in play that should be considered. Perhaps an investment in the legal department can improve organizational throughput, e.g., reduce the time negotiating contracts, accelerated IP review increasing our speed to market, so cutting funding harms the business. Metrics Scatter PlotPerhaps a practice that derives profits from lower-cost paralegals and secretaries managing large piles of filing will come to a screeching halt when this work is pushed up to associates and junior partners, simultaneously eliminating the benefits of leverage and annoying clients who have come to expect lower rates.

On a recent speaking tour of regional educational conferences hosted by the Association of Legal Administrators, I asked audience members to volunteer the metrics they track. We captured pages and pages of performance metrics and the non-surprising results indicated that they vast majority are lagging indicators, e.g., "What happened last year, or last quarter?" and reflect short-term financial performance, e.g., "Was this matter profitable?" We need to evolve as a profession to also incorporate leading indicators and focus on long-term financial performance. As corporate guru Jack Welch once said, “You can’t grow long-term if you can’t eat short-term. Anybody can manage short. Anybody can manage long. Balancing those two things is what management is.”

My friend Silvia Hodges Silverstein, founder of the Buying Legal Council invited me to participate in recent conferences in London and Chicago, where rooms full of legal procurement professionals, in-house counsel, and law firm lawyers and professionals discussed the evolving world of legal metrics so we can find common ground in measuring and delivering value. For the Chicago session, I recorded my remarks, and you can view the session below.

My friend Greg Lambert, a leading information professional and co-founder of the award-winning 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, then riffed on my session to focus on metrics for a sub-set of professionals within law firms. After you view the video, you should read Greg's article. How can you incorporate better metrics in your organization?

 

 

Timothy B. Corcoran was the 2014 President of the Legal Marketing Association and is an elected Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management. He delivers keynote presentations, conducts workshops, and advises leaders of law firms, in-house legal departments and legal service providers on how to profit in a time of great change.  For more information, contact him at +1.609.557.7311 or at tim@corcoranconsultinggroup.com.