In terms of what we do, Dickinson Wright is a full service, corporate law firm that specialises in all forms of business transactions and litigation. Furthermore, we have over 450 attorneys in more than 40 practice groups with nearly 150 sub-specialties, and we work with all kinds of clients, from entrepreneurial businesses to Fortune 100 companies.

As the legal landscape is continuously evolving, we are always keen to adapt and innovate the services we provide and continuously add to our existing client base. Although the influence of digital Due to the complexity of business law, digital marketing will have an impact limited to some very highly targeted areas. The client decision making curve is dominated by personal referrals, thorough vetting, careful evaluation of a firm’s bona fides and selection by multiple decision makers.

Typically, the decision is made by in-house counsel or buyers who must assure themselves that their law firms are perfectly suited to their needs, so they depend upon personal recommendations at the front end of the decision and references at the back end. Nonetheless, digital marketing is making very strong inroads with individual law, including family law, estates, single-plaintiff litigations, wills, trusts and the like.

As CMO, our highly competitive marketing climate requires that we pay close attention to continuous growth, social responsibility and client engagement. Continuous growth is a given, without growth, we are telling clients, referral sources, employees and future attorneys that we are throwing in the towel. With growth, we are conveying an investment made in the future.

Alongside this, client engagement has been accelerating over the past twenty years, developing from an arm’s length engagement to a relationship that is tantamount to business partners. We have a 53-point client code of conduct to ensure that we take our clients’ business needs very seriously.

Of course, we would not have been in business since 1878 if we did not participate aggressively to our six key social responsibility elements, which are diversity, pro bono, charity, civic responsibilities, use of sustainable methods and a women’s initiative.
In terms of my background, I spent nearly two decades in senior sales, business development, knowledge management and marketing positions with two of the largest accounting firms in the world, Arthur Andersen and PricewaterhouseCoopers, now PwC. It was a significant advantage to work with very mature organisations; their markets were highly competitive, and they demanded a very sophisticated approach to working with clients and competing in the markets.

With so much adaption and innovation required to compete in the industry, I firmly believe that strong leadership is essential for survival. In my opinion, the few law firms that will survive and thrive over the next decade will demand executable ideas consistent with a competitive strategy determined by professional business leaders. A chief executive officer adds immensely to the success of a law firm. Bill Burgess, our CEO, is an extraordinary leader, both a visionary and able to lead a firm of 450 lawyers with different skills and experiences.

What was a real watershed moment for me was Sarbanes-Oxley, which was an act passed by U.S. Congress in 2002 to protect investors from the possibility of fraudulent accounting activities by corporations. During this time, Arthur Andersen LLP (an American holding company) fired its partner in charge of auditing the Enron Corporation, which were found to have reported $100bn in revenue through institutional and systematic accounting fraud.

When Andersen fell subsequent to Enron’s collapse, I had been with PwC for about two years, and was running field marketing for about 1/3 of their business. All of a sudden, my team went from one Fortune 1000 proposal per month to one a day.

You grow up in a hurry and I am pleased and proud to say that PwC won more than our share of former Andersen clients in my industry group (Technology, InfoComm and Entertainment & Media).
Fast-forward to today, right now, outside of the AmLaw 100 law firms, there are about 400 to 500 law firms that compete for a significant amount of American legal business, call it ‘run-the-company’ legal work. Within about five years, perhaps 25 to 40 of those firms will have broken away from the remaining firms as clients consolidate their relationships with those firms who offer superior quality, value for fees, excellent client service skills, expertise in client industries and a degree of business acumen which adds value to client businesses.

Additionally, the entire legal profession has begun to migrate towards industry specialties in the same way that the accounting profession did in the 1980s and 1990s. Our company recognised the importance of industry specialties for nearly a century, and we have built specialties in sixteen key industry sectors, including automotive, construction, and energy and sustainability, to name a few. It is for these reasons and more that we are very confident of the future of our company.

 Dickinson Wright PLLC

Name: James J. Stapleton

Email: jstapleton@


Twitter: @JamesJStapleton

Address: 500 Woodward Ave, Detroit, Michigan, 48236

Telephone: 1 313 223 3081

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