Law Practice Management Asked and Answered Blog

Category: Insurance Defense Law Firms

Oct 29, 2013

Insurance Defense Law Firms – Risks and Strategies


I am the managing partner of a 22 attorney firm in Des Moines, Iowa. Our practice is 100% insurance defense representing insurance companies and their insured's. We are aware of some firms such as ours that have had to close their doors during the last few years. What should we be thinking about? You ideas would be appreciated.


Insurance defense law firms that have been approved as panel counsel for multiple insurance companies can inadvertently find that their revenue base is increasingly dependent on a shrinking number of insurance companies over time.


  1. Small number of companies representing the lion's share of the firm's revenues
  2. Changing Rules for Insurance Panels – General Industry Consolidation
  3. Regionalization
  4. Insurance Companies putting work "out for bid"
  5. Trapped by a "Paradigm of Pass Success" and failure to institutionalize business development processes and practices
  6. Promoting an "entitlement generation" of partners with no business development skill
  7. Failure to stay abreast of changes within the client's organization. (Needs, players, policy changes, etc.)
  8. Aging/retirement of founding partners
  9. In house assignments
  10. Departing partners
  11. Lack of time and focus to allocate to new business development


  1. Use a structured client feedback process to obtain hard data from your clients on firm performance, client satisfaction, projected case assignments in the future, your firm's share of the client wallet, changing management (people) and policies, unmet needs, and future opportunities.
  2. If you don't have one develop a strategic plan and a marketing plan (including a specific budget) for the firm.
  3. Diversify the client base. Target new clients. Aggressively pursue new panel applications, track submissions, and monitor. Once approved – look for opportunities to build relationships. Consider educational forums and venues.
  4. Determine if regionalization is an appropriate strategy for your firm. (Ask your clients)
  5. Look for ways to obtain additional business from existing clients. (Ask your clients)
  6. Write and publish more articles – externally and internally (website).
  7. Beef up the blog on the website.
  8. Get more attorneys in the firm involved in business development.
  9. Develop a succession plan for the founders.

Click here for our blog on law firm strategy

Click here for my article on strategies for Insurance Defense Firms

John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

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