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All posts in Client Expectations

Wicker Park Group is revisiting some of the processes around Client Feedback Interviews in a new series of blog posts called “Back to Basics.” This is the fourth article in the series. You can find the first article about how to choose clients for feedback here, the second article about the importance of preparation here and the third […]

An IT lawyer recently made a striking observation to me. He works in the flat-screen TV industry and noted that a flat-screen TV from twenty years ago could cost $20,000 or more and lacked much of today’s technology. But every year, the technology has gotten better as the cost has declined. You can now buy […]

Howard Schultz recently announced he is stepping down from his role as CEO and Chair of Starbucks to focus on the company’s plans to build high-end coffee shops that charge as much as $12 per cup of coffee. That makes me think of the top end of the lawyer’s hourly billable rate. The $2,000 hour […]

Many law firms understand how to meet their client’s biggest and most obvious client service preferences. We’ve all laughed about (and learned from) the story of the firm that FedExed its RFP response to UPS and was summarily dismissed from the process as well as the firm that forgot to remove competitor products from the […]

We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, from November 2015, was one of last year’s most read posts.   There seems to be a theme with our clients these past few months: change. We have three different clients who recently hired new CMOs, and there are significant changes […]

In the past month, I have moderated multiple in-house counsel panels (both in public forums and at private law firm retreats), interviewed more than a dozen in-house counsel and led client service workshops at law firms. In every instance, I was struck by the widening gap between what clients want from their outside counsel and […]

How to Lose a Client

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We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, from October 2015, was one of last year’s most read posts. After twenty years as general counsel of a financial institution and a large medical center, I have heard plenty of complaints from our executives about working with outside counsel. In […]

Wayne Gretzky is famous for being one of the greatest hockey players in history. He is also known for inspiring thousands with his quotes. One of my favorite Gretzky quotes is: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” It is simple but incredibly powerful and exactly […]

Unsurprisingly, no law firm has had the courage in recent weeks to say, “In light of the unjustified first-year associate salary increases, we are reducing first-year base compensation by $10,000 to better align our business with our clients’ ongoing economic reality and invest in our client relationships.” There is no value to your clients in […]

In a recent client feedback interview, a deputy general counsel told a common story. He had all but forgotten the Thursday deadline for a filing in a litigation matter of medium importance. His regular outside litigation counsel had a conflict, and he was trying a new firm on the recommendation of a colleague. The firm […]

In some businesses, clients view their lawyers as impediments to making things happen. Those clients often work with outside counsel who throw up roadblocks and tell them why something won’t work instead of seeking a solution to the challenge. The roadblocks can be anything from regulatory hurdles to plain old risk aversion or analysis paralysis. […]

Not too long ago I interviewed the CFO of a Fortune 1000 company who told me, “You picked a bad day to come visit me.” My response: “Great, I am glad we have something to talk about!” He then explained the background. Outside counsel had been confident in how a judge was going to rule—so […]

Clients come in every shape and size, and every client has a different set of expectations from outside counsel. And “every client” means each individual at the same company has a different style and set of needs that needs to be known, hence our mantra: One Size Fits One. While each client will have individual […]

In early December, I was talking to a law firm senior associate about his successes for the year and goal setting for next year and made the obvious comment about the rush to get in hours for the year. He responded, “Oh, I hit my hours last month so now I can coast.” I don’t […]

There seems to be a theme with our clients these past few months: change. We have three different clients who recently hired new CMOs, and there are significant changes in the managing partner and chairman roles of law firms. Furthermore, we have conducted quite a few interviews with individuals who are new to their company […]

How to Lose a Client

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After twenty years as general counsel of a financial institution and a large medical center, I have heard plenty of complaints from our executives about working with outside counsel. In my opinion, some complaints were justified and some were not. Here is a list of the most common (justified) complaints I heard over those two […]

Put the Phone Away

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“That lawyer does not take on each problem by rote but brings a renewed activism and discipline to the need to find the solution. That lawyer ‘listens’ rather than just ‘hears.’” –Client interviewed by Wicker Park Group     While hearing and listening both require using our ears, the words have very different meanings. Listening […]

It was my second week as the bank holding company’s newly minted general counsel, and I walked into my CEO’s office late in the afternoon with one question: “What type of general counsel do you want me to be for you?” Without missing a beat, my new boss answered quickly with two words: ”No surprises!” […]

In a recent conversation with a Fortune 500 in-house counsel, I asked how she defines value. She replied, “Value is the most ill-defined concept in the legal industry. What I value is a firm that understands how its work fits into my work life. But when you ask my boss or the CFO, they are […]

As a young lawyer, I (like many others) assumed legal expertise was the fundamental prerequisite to a successful legal career. Certainly, you aren’t going to be considered for selection without it. But as we all now know, there are many, many places to find competent legal work. You must offer a lot more than that […]

During the 2015 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference, keynote speaker Daniel Pink discussed many themes related to the role sales plays in the lawyer-client relationship. For decades, lawyers have pushed back aggressively that they aren’t in the business of sales. Of course, they are wrong. Sales is not something out of Glengarry Glen Ross (Pink redefines the […]

Early in my tenure as in-house counsel, I learned that our company possessed eight key decision criteria reflecting our company’s core values. We used those criteria as we began consolidating our outside legal work to fewer law firms.  Those eight key decision criteria were: The firm’s relationship to us (including years of service to our […]

Value is very important to clients, but they do not always understand the bigger picture of your value when looking at a bill. Instead of just providing a bill, you can easily offer your clients some perspective that clearly illustrates the value of your legal services. In any transactional work, when the client asks what […]

We can all benefit from revisiting the essential expectations clients have of outside counsel. Even though none of this is groundbreaking, it’s too easy for outside counsel to get lost in the weeds of day-to-day work and forget about the most important expectations they must meet. Take a moment to reflect on how well you’d […]

For those firms that have not yet notified their clients of their intentions to increase rates after the first of the year, it’s already too late. Not every company budgets on a calendar year annual basis, but for those that do, that process is nearly complete by mid-October. In-house counsel typically draft budgets in September, […]

As an active member of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) and a member of our local ACC Board, I attend many events where participants discuss how to work well with outside counsel. As Wicker Park Group’s own GC, I feel like I am standing on both sides of the fence as a GC for […]

At a recent Legal Marketing Association panel discussion on Social Media, I was struck by how much the conversation focused on what law firms think they should do about social media without paying attention to their clients. While it is critical that law firms have a plan for social media, including piloting the project, getting attorney buy-in […]

Client Alerts

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There’s an interesting conversation happening on the LinkedIn Legal Marketing group (membership required). Here’s my post to the question on whether firms should eliminate client alerts and generally how to ascertain the value of client alerts: — The answer to the question is: One size fits one. Every client is different and has different needs. […]

My friend Dov Seidman has a great post on the Huffington Post about how to think of partnering with your clients. As we talk to in-house counsel and other corporate executives we constantly hear that those outside counsel who understand business pressures, are aware of the internal clients’ needs and have “aligned goals” have the greatest loyalty […]

Of all the comments uttered by in-house counsel, this one may be the most universal. In-house counsel are like in-house police: they either bring news that the company has violated or been violated. They have few opportunities to ever get ahead of the curve, to be a partner in managing the company’s risk, in championing […]

Optics Matter

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Optics: How your actions are perceived. Nope, that’s not the way any dictionary would define the word, but today, in this business environment, it is a term that has been redefined. Today, optics refers to the lens through which your actions are viewed. In recent days, we have a financial services firm canceling a (perceived) […]

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