Trevor Faure has looked at law firm business development from both sides. As European general counsel at Tyco and then Ernst & Young's global general counsel, he received countless undifferentiated white papers, an abundance of after-the-fact notices that he'd just been sued, and too many invitations to sup from bottomless law-firm sponsored canapé trays. Not a churlish sort, he appreciated the gestures who, if they had the time, wouldn't like a day inside the Royal Enclosure at Ascot or on the back nine at Pine Valley?
But he didn't have the time. What he had was a job, and what he needed was help getting it done, rather than more invitations to parties that taxed his wardrobe. All of which led him, a few years back, to walk away from what he saw as the zero-sum law firm-client relationship and turn instead to, excuse the cliché, a "win-win" formulation. This became what he called the Smarter Legal Model (see here and here), an approach that emphasizes mutually beneficial behavior by clients and firms aimed at solving pressing problems. A Smarter Model example: A company asks its litigation firm to examine patterns of claims, and then rewards it for helping cure the underlying problems and avoid further suits.
Eventually Faure moved up in the E&Y empire. He's now its global leader for legal services, which, in part, is a customer-facing job, helping focus E&Y's business and risk management services for lawyers and legal departments. In that role he's looked at law firm business development and concluded that in an age when loyalties were withering under the pressures of globalization, budget tightening, and, to make a Biblical allusion, new Pharaohs who don't know Old Josephs, a business development regimen based on indigestible client alerts and passed hors d'oeuvres was inadequate. Now he's tinkering with a Smarter Business Development Model, a first draft of which he unveiled in January at the annual Marketing Partners Forum.
To oversimplify his views, he sees law firms as needing to embrace six traits, some of which parallel the efforts of the mighty marketing groups at the Big Four accounting firms.
Three are attitudinal:
Everyone is a client, "even if they haven't instructed us yet."
Business development needs to be intensely pursued; at the firm, everyone is in BD.
The relationship is about the client, not the firm.
And three are substantive:
BD is not a department, "it is a discipline along with every other expertise in the firm." It can be taught and learned.