When I work with bankers, my first question is always “What makes you stand out from your competition”.  Without failure the answer is “We are a relationship bank”.  By definition, a differentiation point must not be the same thing that all your competitors say.  Now some will argue that they ARE better at relationships, but admit that the customer cannot tell until they select them and have worked with others.  This is not a worthy selling point.

For attorneys the common answer when I ask “What value do you bring that other lawyers do not?” they say “I / We do good work”.  This is so subjective to begin with, that is hard to quantify. But beyond that, not a single one of your competitors say “I / We do bad work”…. so again, there is not way to differentiate with such a statement.

This is always the hardest thing for a lawyer to grasp in their efforts to build business. Finding a tangible value that you bring, that your competitors do not do as well (and that you can quantify) is nearly impossible.  Most of my coaching clients get frustrated with this and never do the work to figure out what is the real value they provide.

I am not talking about your firm’s mission statement or marketing tag line.  I am asking “What value do you bring that your competitors do not (or do not do as well)”. And can you prove it?

The reason a great coaching relationship is important to a lawyer who wants to build a real book of business that is sustainable, is a coach will help them find answers and not let them skip this step.

So what value do you bring that is unique or where you excel over others in your space?  “I win in court” does not count, as sometimes you do not, and often your competitors would have gotten the same results had they won the chance to represent the client.

I have seen it take years for someone to answer this question in a way that helps them win business. We are not looking for slogans or fluff.  You need to fully know the value you bring and believe it so deeply that when the time comes to tell a prospect about it, they will be blown away and stop looking at other legal options.

Let’s get started.  Make a list.  Put the list away overnight.  Look at it again.  Would you be willing to show your list to a law school friend at another firm?  Would they agree or roll their eyes?  I am blown away how many are scared to tell anyone about the value they bring for fear of seeming wrong or silly.

I cannot help you solve this work in  a 500 word blog post.  You need to work on this constantly for a long time and learn to see your value and be willing to share it with the world.  But if you do not do this, you will always just be lost in the pack of thousands of good attorneys.  But never in the list of the few who are great.


Thom Singer is an advisor to law firms. He also coaches individual associates and partners.  To learn more about his “Business Development for Lawyers” coaching program  – call him right now.