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Glance Back, Focus Forward

My 2021 year-ender casts a quick glance back, but much more importantly focuses forward to a vibrant future.

Thank you for taking an interest in my work, thoughts and analyses during yet another year that has been tremendously challenging for all of us.

My “think” contributions for 2021 include opinion columns, blog posts, media interviews, and speaking engagements.

Media and Speaking 

With respect to media interviews and speaking engagements, my sincere thanks to:

Julie Sobowale for including my comments in her CBA National article, Legal Tech to the Rescue.

Tim Wilbur for adding my recommendations to his Canadian Lawyer article, How Law Firms Can Stay Competitive.

Angela Cao who invited me to speak to the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Section of the Canadian Bar Association of British Columbia on Where Do We Go From Here: Thriving in a Post-Pandemic Legal Market.

Shari Slonim, The Honourable Kathleen Erin Cullin and Barbara Hicks who, with their Law Society of Ontario colleagues, produced the 15th Solo and Small Firm Conference where I was closing plenary speaker for Where Do We Go From Here? Thriving Within a Rapidly Changing Legal Market.

Jill Mayer for inviting my participation in Creating a Law Practice Micro-Niche for Your Law Practice and Services as part of the Canadian Bar Association’s Solutions Series.

Columns and Posts

My opinion columns and blog posts run parallel to the narrative arc of the global pandemic as it continued into a second year and, as of November 2021, began a third.

(A side note: I am determined not to follow the pandemic arc any further than necessary. One can stand only so much. Let’s endeavour to get on with the business of life as it is now and work toward how we want it to be.)

With respect to my Canadian Lawyer columns, my warmest thanks to Publisher, Tim Wilbur and Elizabeth Raymer who, in addition to being Senior Editor for Canadian Lawyer and Lexpert as well as a contributing writer, also acts as my editor. As such, Beth does her darnedest to keep me from going off on blazing tangents and makes me look better in print than I deserve.

Being Superhuman: How character, trust and faith win hearts, minds and legal market share.

Legal Market Positioning is Key to Building Back Strong: Even though the pandemic’s first year slammed the world for the worst, it’s upending the legal services market for the better. 

Recreating the Legal Ecosystem: How investing in client experience strengthens the legal marketplace.

Managing the Client Connection Challenge: Now more than ever, good client management works hand-in-glove with cultivating a vibrant practice – and requires diligent execution on savvy business development techniques.

The Hybrid Legal Services Team: Collaboration leads to efficiency and a pooling of talent that results in greater commercial value.

Data Matters for Legal Market Growth: Data is key to solid returns and commercial results. Otherwise, you’re gambling.

Inside a Legal Entrepreneur’s Mindset: Why visionaries and innovators will flourish now.

Future Focused

I suspect my “getting on with it” sentiment is shared since Inside a Legal Entrepreneur’s Mindset has been my most widely read column of the year by a landslide.

Perhaps this is not surprising considering that we will be dealing with the pandemic and its fallout for years to come. Its long tail effects will include businesses that close as a result of withdrawn government financial supports along with a reckoning, signalled many months ago, that our working world has been altered forever.

Some of us have already changed — or will soon — our work and ways of working.

I did. This year, I shifted my practice to an advisory-consulting balance with a concentrated focus on legal markets, marketing management, business development, and client retention.

This is a natural evolution in scope and expertise that shifts my focus and offerings of over 20 years from narrow-and-deep to narrower-and-deeper. (Clients will tell you this is how I advise and coach them to achieve competitive advantage by being one-of-one in target markets. And I follow my own advice.)

As a legal market change agent to law firms and legal services providers, I have always acted as an advisor and as a consultant I do the work.

So, now it’s official. A new website will launch in 2022.

Articles to Watch (and Watch Out) For

I believe the past teaches and the future inspires. So, it’s my hope that an upcoming post, which outlines how our changing ways of working may shift the lives and livelihoods of all types of legal service providers will provide inspiration for some and warning for others. It will appear in January.

A follow-up opinion column on developing a value culture based on sales that was promised in Inside a Legal Entrepreneur’s Mindset will be published in Canadian Lawyer in February 2021.

Tentatively titled When Sales Becomes Value, I explain how developing a sales mentality that evolves into a value culture is a long-term undertaking that has proven to be a market differentiator worth every second of the hard work it demands.

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.

Since 2005 – and sporadically in years prior to then – we have been entering into early stages of a fresh and thriving legal services industry with focused intention. Our determination continues to be underscored by positivity, respect, entrepreneurial thinking, innovative doing, data-driven strategies, and people-first tactics.

Now, the pandemic is acting as an accelerant to propel our legal services industry forward and enabling us to do law differently. We can and will evolve with blazing speed and sparkling brilliance – provided we get out of our own way and invite greatness to take its rightful place.

So, on that optimistic yet realistic note, please accept my best wishes to you and those you hold most dear for a healthy holiday season, and a bright and inspiring new year.

Heather Suttie is 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.

Reach her at +1.416.964.9607 or

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