What Executives Want from Go-To Outside Counsel
We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, originally posted in June, was one of this year’s most read posts.
Last week, a friend of mine here in New Orleans asked me for a referral for a good internal medicine physician. Being a corporate lawyer by training and practice, I don’t know which internal medicine physicians have the best skills and experience. But I do know from personal experience which doctors sincerely care about my health and make every effort to provide me with exceptional healthcare service.
I suggest the same is true for your clients and potential new clients. They may not know who are the best lawyers in a particular practice area, but they do know (or learn from other referral sources) which lawyers sincerely care about their success and make every effort to provide exceptional client service.
Clients may not know who are the best lawyers in a particular practice area, but they do know which lawyers sincerely care about their success and provide exceptional client service.
When I served as general counsel of a Texas financial institution, these are some of the things I heard from our executives that they looked for from top outside counsel. Follow these twelve suggestions and position yourself as the ultimate go-to lawyer:
- Learn your client’s most serious risks to success and develop solutions to avoid those risks.
- Understand your client’s business, industry and regulatory environment.
- Find out your client’s goals and future plans and help them succeed outside the practice of law without charge.
- Find out how each of your client’s different departments want to receive communications from you.
- Learn from your client what “added value” means and educate your client team.
- Offer to “embed” some of your firm’s attorneys into your client’s offices at cost to help on a major project. (In addition to providing crucial assistance to the client, they will bring back invaluable information on how that client makes decisions and what they like and dislike about working with outside professionals.)
- Regularly provide in-house seminars for your clients on subjects they choose.
- Formally train your “billing attorneys” to provide legal bills that are timely, accurate and descriptive of the legal work and its value to the client.
- Provide your client with immediate information regarding changes in laws and regulations that may impact the business or customers.
- Provide an organizational chart that provides contact information for particular attorneys in your firm who can address issues for those specific sections/departments of your client’s respective internal teams.
- Visit with your client’s executives at least annually at no charge to gain an understanding of their current business needs and risks.
- No surprises!