In many of our strategic planning assignments for law firms, we ask our clients the question, "what truly sets you apart from other law firms?" It often happens that this question is a very difficult one to answer, as it is hard to measure and explain differentiation in such areas as quality and value. So in the paragraphs that follow, we have been careful in defining what it is that sets us apart. The below described factors we believe truly differentiate Smock Law Firm Consultants.

Results and references - we are very proud of the results our clients have achieved in response to the assistance we have provided. Not only do those results achieved distinguish us, but so do the very positive references provided by our clients to potential clients.

Our experience as consultants – rarely can a consulting firm point to the level of experience comparable to that of our four partners. Averaging greater than 40 years of strategic consulting and/or legal management experience, our four partners may not have seen it all, but there is very little in the field of law firm management that we have not seen.

Strategic planning experience – virtually every management consultant, as well as almost all marketing consultants, technology consultants, advertising personnel, and other types of professionals claim they have strategic planning experience. They may and they may not. But, our partners are true strategic planners – it is our primary service (over 60% of what we do) and we do it very, very well. We have designed and implemented an industry leading methodology (FOCUS); have written extensive articles, books, and related documents on the topic; and have very successful strategic planning experience in industries other than law firms. The track record of the firms who have retained us in implementing the end product – the strategic plan – is exceptional.

High level consulting experience – there is no licensing authority for law firm management consultants, as there is for attorneys and, for that matter, accountants, doctors, nurses, and engineers. There is no barrier to entry and anyone can claim expertise (and, often, every out of work executive does). But, there is a set of skills required for high level management consulting in terms of rigorous fact finding, research, document development, presentation and facilitation that cannot be learned by merely hanging out a consulting shingle. Simply put, our consultants know how to consult and not only bring solid law firm industry knowledge, but extensive experience and differentiable skills in the process of management consulting.

Our view of practical and useful improvements in legal management – Smock Law Firm Consultants writes extensively about key issues facing legal management. We do this for a number of reasons – to transfer what we have learned to the marketplace we serve, to build wide credibility, and to distinguish ourselves from others opining on the same topics. We have clearly achieved those objectives – our clients and potential clients tell us they read our monographs and other materials and find them very useful and practical – particularly in comparison to others' musings on similar topics.

Lack of dogma – we view each client and the issues they ask to resolve as different. We tailor our analyses and, importantly, our recommendations to the needs of each client assignment. We are not a publishing house and do not promote our biases of legal management practices.

Value – in the present and expected market for legal services, law firms' clients are clearly looking for value. In consulting assignments to law firms we have consistently discussed "value" as an understandable equation (value = results/cost). We see the value we provide as another element of differentiation – we are far from being the most expensive consultant in the legal marketplace, but we are also not the least expensive. We believe that our clients apply that value equation to management consultant evaluation and conclude that we provide and add value – again, a topic that can be confirmed with our references.