Believe it or not, this event is closely related to the legal world and much can be learned from it.

In short, for anyone who is not a football fan or has just been cut off from the world in recent days – the world’s greatest football star, Lionel Messi, who has been playing for Barcelona for about 20 years (the first team he started playing football as an adult), was forced to leave after failing to renew his contract. Following the Fare Play laws, which set a financial cap. In order to keep the player, perhaps the best in history and most identified with the club, Barcelona had to cut players’ salaries and sell about 50 percent of its squad.

But we are not here to talk about sports regulations, but about something completely different. At the official press conference at which the Catalan football club announced the decision, Barcelona President said in a key sentence: “The club is above all. The club is more important than any player.”

The Legal Connection

A law firm is a brand and stronger then the sum of all the lawyers who work in it. The understanding that the brand existed in the past and will continue to exist, even as the “lineup” changes. People help build the brand but the reputation should continue and not be based on one personality or another.

A law firm, like a football team, is made up of people and each firm wants to put together the best and strongest “team”. One that in addition to goals and titles, will give added value and allow its clients to win the legal field.

In the legal industry, it is common to witness lawyers moving from one firm to another. Of course there is an impact on the abandoned firm, but at the same time, we see clearly and unequivocally that the firms that held a high degree of brand reputation and managed to brand the “firm above its lawyers” overcame the crisis and continued with business as usual.

The Generation Gap in Law Firms

We are at a time when in many offices there is a natural turnover, in which the founding partners or name partners, pass the reins to the next generation.

The problem lies in offices where the firm name is closely reliant on its association with the founding partner. The partner is the firm and the firm is the partner. They are inseparable because over the years the firm’s branding has been based on the dominant personality of a partner – or partners. In such a case, clients will show signs of anxiety in light of the retirement of the founding partner or other longtime partners around whom the firm has been run.

On the other hand, the law firms that have succeeded in establishing the reputation around the firm and on its departments, will have an easier transition, where the retirement of the founding partner will be seen as a natural and positive act – passing a stick to the younger generation, for the firm’s continuity.

In conclusion – learn from Barcelona

The firm is above all. The firm as a brand is more important than any lawyer employed by the firm. Lawyers, like football players, can migrate to another firm and the firm needs to continue to radiate confidence and continuity. The firm is the brand and therefore it is important to carry out continuous marketing activities, throughout the year, that strengthen the brand. Here are some suggestions:

Employees – Invest in internal communication and  organisation, employee retention and employee development.

Clients – client retention, refining customer journey and increasing customer loyalty to the firm.

Potential clients – make sure that the firm addresses the target audiences it wants to serve and is positioned in the market as a leader in the relevant fields and sectors. The firm’s partners and lawyers are the added value and the competitive advantage, but it is important to first position the firm at the center.

The firm – put the firm in the center and create a corporate culture which will foster an identity. Promote brand values and set clear messaging of what differentiates the firm. How is the firm set apart from the competition and does the firm control the messages that come out of it (from employees, to the media, to potential clients, to competitors etc’).

Marketing – identify the tools that the firm uses and build an internal process to write a strong marketing strategy, work plan and budget. Manage the marketing in a cohesive manner that allows data collection and control of the firm’s marketing.