An honest and clearly argued assessment of the difficulties law firms face in achieving differentiation by Charlie Geffen at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.
Is differentiation possible for law firms? I believe it is and concur with the author: admit what your'e good at and not so good at and focus on those areas where you can mark out some clear space for your firm. The piece goes on to name some firms that have done so skilfully and predicts further segmentation of the market which should allow firms to position themselves appropriately.
I would add the importance of building a strong narrative around those areas where firms excel through effective internal and external communications. The author is right in suggesting that a brand without the skills to then deliver on their promise , isn't a brand worth having on board. Conversely, a law firm that is very good in an area of law but lacks the requisite market reputation will find it much harder to get noticed.
As the market segments more firms will differentiate themselves between these categories. The high-value work requiring experience and judgement will tend towards firms with lower leverage and high rates. The high leverage model, which compensates for lower rates, will become the model for the more commoditised black letter law advice and resource. Both models can be profitable, but they are different. Firms already often collaborate: the low leverage firm offering high-value experience and judgement and the more leveraged firm offering local technical advice and document management.