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Transitioning to the Legal Sector - Insights from a Pricing Manager

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Traditionally, the legal sector has been hesitant to recruit experienced Pricing Managers who lack prior law firm experience.

However, by expanding their parameters, firms stand to benefit from innovative ideas, diverse viewpoints, and a broader talent pool.

At Ambition, we have successfully placed several Pricing specialists from outside of the legal sector into leadership roles within Top 100 law firms.

How challenging is it to transition into the legal sector?

To find out, I reached out to one Pricing Manager who we placed into a Magic Circle law firm 3 years ago, coming from industry without any prior law firm experience.

Since then, he has gone from strength to strength, becoming one of the firm's top performers and now on track for a Senior Manager promotion.

Below he shares his first-hand insights into the experience of transitioning into a law firm.

What has been the biggest challenge transitioning to working for a law firm?

This may sound obvious, but learning a new industry is a challenge. You need to learn a sufficient amount to be able to converse with Partners and present Pricing to them with authenticity. This is a challenge considering how long they have been in the business.

Also, learning new KPIs and profitability measures that drive the business and therefore your approach to pricing.

This isn’t insurmountable, but you need to be prepared to put in the work at the start.

One of the other challenges, which I think is linked to the new industry, is the less structured approach to signing off new rates.

In industry, for large clients, you’re likely doing this by a committee of the same stakeholders. Whereas in legal you might be convincing 1 or 2 Partners, but the Partners signing off on a pricing strategy change from client to client. So you need to be able to build a rapport with new stakeholders on a consistent basis.

In industry, you are likely working in a smaller group of stakeholders with the same strategic goals (e.g. within a business unit).

In Legal, you find Partners will have differing views on price setting and you need to be able to adapt and lead them down a path that aligns to the firm's overall strategy.

What are the key similarities from your previous role in Pricing to your current role?

  • Modelling of rates in excel and ensuring they meet profitability targets

  • Pricing in industry and legal touch on lots of different stakeholders from a variety of teams. Mostly internal, but some external too. So managing a diverse mix of stakeholders with varying degrees of financial understanding is very similar

  • Negotiation tactics learnt in industry supporting sales teams, can also be applied in legal in support of Partners and achieving a ‘win-win’ scenario with the client.

What experience were you able to draw from quite quickly after joining?

Ultimately, the same commercial mindset that has been learnt in industry is the key to successfully crossing over.

The same basic rules of pricing don’t change, they just need to be applied to a new industry.

My experience presenting pricing strategies to senior staff and knowing how to present analysis/slides as simply as possible is key when working with the Partnership.

Previous background in FP&A and Business Partnering roles has also been helpful in my specific role as there is some requirement for performance management of the clients we look after.

What is your advice for people looking to move into the legal sector in a pricing focused role?

Firstly, I would say it is definitely worth considering as it is a great industry to be in. There is a learning curve, but it is in no way insurmountable.

The key is applying the same commercial mindset that you have learnt elsewhere.

I think you can make a big impact supporting Lawyers who may be less commercially savvy. You can also bring a new perspective to colleagues and create more diversity of thought within the pricing team in legal.

Lean on your colleagues who have been in the legal sector longer to learn the ropes, but don’t be afraid to give a different perspective on challenges faced by the team.

Find out more about a move into the legal sector

Read about how a Finance Business Partner made the move into legal from industry here >

​If you're an experienced Pricing Manager looking for a new opportunity in the legal sector, or if you're a hiring manager looking to recruit, feel free to reach out to me for a confidential discussion.

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