Caroline Elefant over at My Shingle recently posted a discussion about small law firms “joint venturing” with larger firms to help the larger firms get more business in RFP contests, etc. The title of her post is “Could You Be A Front For A Firm?”
Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re in a small firm and
you’re thinking about “cooperating” with a larger firm as Caroline
First of all it may give you some confidence to know that small and
minority law firms have actually been “cooperating” with larger firms
for a long time. There is no such thing as a “full service” firm. They
ALL have gaps. I once helped a small franchise specialty shop with deep
roots in the restaurant industry joint venture with a 50 lawyer firm to
go after and win an RFP from a major national restaurant franchise that
paid for my client’s kids’ college tuition with all the fees the
Second of all, you can help eliminate alot of client confusion if
the larger firm will give you your own email extension that forwards to
you and your own extension on their pbx phone system. This gives
clients a HUGE sense of comfort.
Third, be sure you take the time to document not only the terms but
schedule an hour with the larger firm’s Administrator to work out the
mechanics of how the relationship is actually going to operate. For
example, will you be able to schedule use of the firm’s conference room
for client meetings? Will they assign you a cost code for the copy
machines,etc. and will the big firm’s copy room support you? Usually
it’s just a matter of asking to leverage their economy of scale and
they’re happy to accommodate us.
Don’t be afraid to bring RFP’s to a larger firm and suggest
cooperation. And don’t wait until they have an RFP to go over there and
suggest how you may fit into their strategy. 8 times out of 10 I find
the larger firms are very receptive to this “Integrated Of Counsel”
type of relationship with smaller firms with interesting niche
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