My 2023 review is a collection of legal market strategy think pieces, commentaries, interviews and webinars, and a preview of a fearless 2024.
2023 was a go-go year for legal markets worldwide. And while my articles, blog posts, media quotes, webinar and podcast participation ran parallel to advances and situations during this year, they also lean toward the future, as do I.
So, a word of advice and my theme for 2024: Be fearless. Fortune favours the brave.
The theme of global legal markets in 2023 has been radical industry evolution along with the continuing impact of artificial intelligence on legal services business.
Enormous change has been prevalent with a new U.S.-based entrant into the Canadian legal market along with build-outs of American firms that have been in Canada for many years.
While law firm mergers have been prolific in Canada and even more so abroad — most particularly the merger of behemoths Allen & Overy and Shearman & Sterling set to close in Spring 2024 — traditional legal practices are needing to continually evolve their business strategies in an increasingly competitive marketplace that is experiencing market pressures pertaining to economics, attracting and retaining talent, and the impact of technology.
These signs of growth, expansion and innovation are indicative of a strong and healthy global legal market. And yet, even though feisty competition keeps players sharp, a one-of-one market position — yes, it’s possible; watch this space for upcoming insights — enables exclusivity, dominance, and exponential growth.
While I don’t claim clairvoyance, all of this was forecast in my first article of 2023, Smart Strategy: Rethink, Restructure and Retool, which appears in the list below.
Articles and Posts
Media, Speaking and Chairing
With respect to media appearances, speaking, and chairing engagements, my sincere thanks to:
Gail Cohen for including my comments on expectations for more law firm mergers due to the rebalancing of the global legal market. Two Midsize Toronto Business Law Firms Combine in Latest Merger in Canada — ALM — June 7, 2023 explores how this particular combination creates a new entrant among Toronto’s 100-plus lawyer law firms, and is the latest in a string of mergers involving regional and mid-sized firms across the country over the last year. The full story is here on Law.com.
Eric Fletcher for inviting me to join him on his Chasing Better Conversations: Podcast where we discussed the value of nurturing relationships. Our conversation ranged from how to get out of your own way to the necessity for law firms to run as businesses, and how my encounters with David Maister, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and Jim Henson and the Muppets were a privilege and influential.
Suttie. Equals Strategy
Thank you for taking an interest in my legal market strategy work, thoughts and analyses, and following me.
You will probably know that after 25 years, I repositioned and rebranded my legal market consulting practice in September 2022. Because change happens by degrees, I fully expected tailoring would be required.
After 11 months of closely observing the global legal services market, gauging its responses to opportunities and challenges, and listening to my clients, colleagues, and conscience, my practice and offerings were tightened in August 2023, and niched from narrow and deep to narrower and deeper.
My Legal Market Strategy and Management Consulting practice now focuses solely on four key pillars of strategy: Business, Market, Management, and Client.
This business strategy is called Vertical Growth. I will be writing about this growth strategy in 2024, so watch this space.
Those in the legal services market who revel in change continue to have the time of their lives — I certainly am — while uncertainty that change brings can and will be cause for concern for those who prefer predictability.
The good news is that there is and will continue to be a place for all players in the legal services ecosystem. Even more beneficially, it’s becoming glaringly apparent that a law degree won’t be a requirement or essential for legal services business success.
Major factors, such as talent attraction and retention as well as succession that involves client strategy and alumni programs will be front-and-centre. And, of course, the continual evolution of artificial intelligence will impact legal services in the same all-encompassing way that the Internet changed how the whole world works and operates.
These are exciting days for those who are comfortable with change management.
2024 Theme: Fearless
People say I’m fearless and I am. Fear, like anger, envy and other negative-leaning emotions cause disturbances within and outside of one’s self. While not always successful, I do my damnedest to recognize and remove debilitating traits, and try to help others do so as well.
Freedom from fear, for example, has enabled me and those with whom I work (and play) to embrace differentiating features that enable one-of-one distinction.
Far from chest-thumping bravado, fearlessness requires humility to welcome, build and embrace what your market and community wants while positioning yourself and, most importantly, your ego/self-worth to accommodate it with confidence. This is not a form of sublimation, but instead enables you to embody one-of-one distinctiveness without competition.
This will be a cornerstone theme on which I will focus next year so, again, watch this space.
Advancing Our Legal Ecosystem
The global legal services ecosystem with its regulatory rethink sandboxes, evolving technology, and structural overhauls has never been more interesting and exciting than it is right now.
Many of us have been entering into a refreshed and thriving legal services industry with focused intention. Our determination continues to be underscored by creative legal market strategies, daring distinctiveness, entrepreneurial zeal, innovative thinking, data-driven doing, and people-first awareness.
On that optimistic yet fully realistic note, please accept my best wishes for a healthy, happy Holiday Season, and a fearless New Year.
Heather Suttie is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading authorities on legal market strategy and management of legal services firms.
For 25 years, she has advised leaders of premier law firms and legal service providers worldwide — Global to Solo | BigLaw to NewLaw — on innovative strategies pertaining to business, markets, management, and clients.
The result is accelerated performance achieved through a distinctive one of one legal market position and sustained competitive advantage leading to greater market share, revenue, and profits.
The effect is accomplishment of the prime objective — To Win.