Why is being able to differentiate your legal firm in this increasingly competitive legal market vital to your future?

The UK Legal Services Market Report 2020 reports the number of law firms in the UK as just below 12,000, with an expected market growth of 4.4% in 2021 and even higher in 2022. There are currently 152,762 practising solicitors in England and Wales. These numbers mean it is a hugely competitive market.

The UK has also seen an influx of US law firms competing for market share. Alternative legal service providers (businesses that provide legal services but are not law firms) also pressure law firms to stay competitive. The “Big 4” accounting firms all have a renewed focus on providing legal services.

To add to the competitive mix, the Solicitors Regulation Authority allows solicitors, since 2019, to practice as freelance solicitors. Freelance solicitors are self-employed, providing more options for the public regarding legal services. All these role players contribute to a fiercely competitive market.

To remain relevant, lawyers and law firms must focus on retaining talent and clients. It is vital to attract new clients and keep up with modern trends and developments in an ever-growing market. It is critical to stand out instead of blending in. 

How do you stand out in a competitive market?  

In a competitive market, clients are spoilt for choice. Some firms have merged to pool resources, expertise, and clients to retain a competitive edge. Others have increased salaries to retain or attract new talent. Some firms have invested in technology and innovation, whilst others have pivoted from corporate work to restructuring and litigation. Some have focused on building better relationships with existing clients and attracting new clients by offering webinars, hosting client events, and having a broader social media presence. 

If you want to remain competitive and stand out, you need to connect with your target market and convince them to choose you. Standing out has everything to do with your reputation. Clients need to be confident that you are their best option in the competitive market. 

You need to know how clients perceive you. How do clients differentiate you from others? Are you the “biggest firm”? Do you have “the best litigators”? Is your “expertise superior”? Can your “clients trust you”? Why do clients pick you?

Clients’ perceptions form the basis of your reputation and how you attract more clients. Firms with a good reputation receive more attention and inquiries. It is all about standing out. 

You might not have thought about it before, but your reputation and clients’ perception are your brand. Clients see you as the “best litigators” or the “lawyers they can trust”. Your image then influences perception and reputation and is a strategic tool to help you stand out. The good news is that you can take control of your brand to attract more clients, raise profitability, and grow your firm.

Why is having a solid and distinctive brand important? 

How the market perceives you and how widely you are known determines your opportunities and identity. A strong brand leads to better opportunities. In an intensely competitive market, a strong identity will determine your success.

Who are you? What does your firm stand for? Why should clients choose you? 

Strong branding can change client perceptions and effectively introduce new practice areas to your target market.

Whether you are a sole practitioner or a big corporate firm, you need a solid brand to remain competitive in your niche market. It would help if you had a perceived image to differentiate you from competitors targeting the same market. A strong brand leads to more inquiries, more potential clients, and growth.

Benefits of having a solid brand

A compelling brand increases the recognition of your firm in your target market. You want your name and logo to stand out and pop up in people’s minds when they need the legal services you offer. A strong image presents your clients with an immediate, recognisable, and distinctive professional image. 

Effective branding builds equity and increases business value. Awareness leads to new clients and more business. It also builds trust. In the legal profession, trust is paramount. Existing, new, and potential clients all want a lawyer and a firm that they can trust.

Clients want an expert when seeking legal advice. You need to position your firm as a trustworthy and credible expert in your practice area. If your identity is apparent, potential clients will immediately identify you as the right fit for them. Your image can communicate points of difference between you and your competitors.

A strong market position means you can charge premium rates. If your brand positions you as the expert in your field, you can charge expert fees.

Market research has shown that solid brands thrive during economic downturns. Not only does a strong image attract clients, but it also attracts employees and partners. People are proud to be associated with your perceived image.

Overall, strong branding gives you a competitive edge. It positions you for success.

How do you create a strong brand? 

Find out what your clients perceive as your strengths. What do your clients believe are the strengths that differentiate you from other firms? What do your clients value? Why do they choose you? 

Then decide who you want as your clients? Who is your target market? What is your vision for your firm?

If you can match these, you are on your way to establishing a distinctive and robust brand strategy. At the same time, anticipate change and “brand” for the future. It would help if you remained relevant in a changing landscape.

A strong brand expresses itself at every customer touchpoint and becomes intrinsic to your culture – a constant symbol of your core values and heritage.

If you would like to strengthen your position in your niche market, create a powerful brand, and stand out in this highly competitive space, you should contact a specialist marketing professional. Effective branding is an ongoing investment in the future success of your law firm.

Take a look at the brand Breathe created for Ortega Medina, a US Immigration Lawyer based in London. If you would like a Free Brand Review then please call 01491 699845 or email geoff@breathe4u.com to arrange, we would be delighted to help.