By Andrew Dick, Founder and President, Select Counsel (selectcounsel.law)
You’ve branched out from Big Law to start your own practice. You may be hanging out your shingle for the first time or maybe you made the leap several years ago. Perhaps you joined forces with some of your colleagues to create a lean, boutique law firm.
Whether you’re new to the game or a small firm veteran, a broad-based legal network can bring enormous value to your practice.
Every small firm attorney has his or her own professional network, but it is generally limited in terms of geography and range of expertise. In a big firm, on the other hand, no matter what the issue is or where it arises, there’s a good chance some lawyer in some office has dealt with it – an incredible resource to offer to clients and one way in which big firms justify their fees. An individual lawyer’s network can’t replicate the depth, breadth and quality of lawyers in a big firm, but the right legal network can.
A vast resource to draw from
Legal networks provide a virtual community for quickly sharing information and obtaining guidance. Inevitably as a lawyer, you will get questions from clients that are outside your wheelhouse. In those situations, the traditional options are to research the issue on your own, spend valuable time finding a reliable referral or tell the client you can’t help them.
But with a legal network such as Select Counsel, you can tap into a curated group that includes hundreds of experienced attorneys across all practices and jurisdictions. No matter the issue or area of law – ERISA, insurance, environmental, tax, regulatory – you can find someone in the network with relevant expertise. Plus, you gain a platform with discussion boards and tools to easily connect with peers for advice, referrals or co-counsel based on your specific needs.
Collaboration to expand capabilities
It’s rare for personal networks to feature individuals who share Big Law backgrounds and top academic credentials. The lawyers in the Select Counsel network have that background across a vast diversity of practices. With an average of 10 years of experience at AmLaw 200 firms and an average of 20 years of total practice experience, lawyers in the Select Counsel network have a common background and a legal training that lends well to sharing clients who have sophisticated needs and high service level expectations.
Helen Quinn, who formerly practiced at Wilson Sonsini, is now a solo practitioner specializing in corporate finance and M&A. She says Select Counsel has been a game changer in handling a broad range of client matters.
“Through Select Counsel, I have access to a network of attorneys who understand the issues of my practice, can support my transactional work, and have the pedigree and experience to garner the immediate trust of my clients,” Quinn says.
Strength in numbers
Access to top lawyers through a legal network can be key to raising the profile of your practice. Pitching clients gains a new dimension knowing that you can draw on a network of more than 300 lawyers with the same Big Law background.
Not only is a top-flight network helpful for marketing to potential clients, but it enables you to elevate the quality and sophistication of your clients and matters. Bolstered by the strength of a legal network, you can go after bigger clients and take on more interesting projects. Leveraging the network to assemble a team gives larger clients with complex, multidisciplinary needs more reason to hire you.
Ivan Wool, a former partner at Mintz Levin, has seen the benefits.
“The Select Counsel network has given my practice and my clients a breadth and scope of expertise that I didn’t think possible for a small practice, as well as a deep and wide geographic reach that even large firms would find difficult to match,” Wool says. “My clients have been impressed with the quality and capabilities of the network members.”
Leveraging a network to offer clients more options and more services ultimately means sharing clients with other members in the network. Select Counsel facilitates relationship-building among lawyers through an online platform and in-person networking events to encourage cross-referrals and co-counseling opportunities. The better you know the other network members and their practices, the better the referral you can make and the more likely those members will be to call on you when a need comes up.
While Select Counsel attorneys have opted to leave Big Law behind, they still are offering their clients the full-service benefits of the big firm. With the support of a robust network of lawyers across the country, they can offer clients a full range of legal services and do so more efficiently and cost-effectively than their peers at larger firms.