Law firms often seem bent on growth for the sake of growth. Regional firms dream of becoming national firms, while national firms wish to ascend (if that’s the right term for the change) to the ranks of “global” firms.
The question that begs to be asked, though, is “what do the clients want?” Growth often presents challenges to the growing firm that it did not anticipate when it was smaller. that growth might even undermine qualities that the clients of the firm (at its smaller size) valued.
For example, global firms often tout their geographic breadth as an attractive characteristic and they point to the wide range of substantive specialties that they offer within the international offices that carry the single “brand.” Do the clients that avail themselves of that geographic breadth, though, encounter widely divergent client experiences? Does the firm’s service delivery provide the consistency that clients often treasure? If a client that has used the firm since its early growth stage finds its matters attended to less diligently or with a different client-service “mindset” when attorneys in another, previously unused office provide the service, what will that client’s reaction be?
Offering more substantive areas of expertise may be important for a firm that wants to position itself as serving every client’s needs throughout the world. Doing so in a manner that changes from office to office or country to country due to a lack of internal attention to the service standards might undermine the firm’s appeal to clients and might provide the firm’s competitors (even smaller ones) an unexpected opening that they can exploit.