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All posts tagged Managing Expectations

When clients take the time to offer feedback, they give their lawyers and firms a gift. It is the gift of their time—a gift demonstrating they care about the relationship. But with that gift comes great responsibility. And unlike a traditional gift, you have to do much more than just send a thank you note […]

At the end of a client feedback interview last week, the senior in-house counsel I was speaking with summed up the relationship by saying, “At the end of the day, they get all my work because they make me look good.” It is that simple. In an era where competition is greater than ever and […]

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.   In a recent post, we discussed the value of using stories in pitching you, your firm and what sets you apart. The value of telling your story was also mentioned in […]

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 […]

Wicker Park Group recently had the opportunity to speak with Doug Luftman, the Chief Innovation Officer and General Counsel at Lecorpio. He shared insights on what GCs are looking for from outside counsel and how to develop and strengthen those relationships. Luftman said, “The most valuable thing is outside counsel being savvy about my business and having true […]

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 […]

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.   “While our attorney conveys knowledge and supervises other attorneys, we don’t see a successor. But we don’t see one in any law firm. There is no incentive to do […]

The single greatest truth in any client feedback effort is simple: If you are not prepared to act on the feedback, don’t ask for it. In every client feedback program—whether we are conducting the interviews ourselves or training the firm on how to conduct them—managing the clients’ expectations is critical to the program’s success. We […]

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 […]

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 […]

“While our attorney conveys knowledge and supervises other attorneys, we don’t see a successor. But we don’t see one in any law firm. There is no incentive to do it.”   Succession planning is one of those recurring issues that Wicker Park Group hears about regularly while conducting client feedback interviews. Whether due to a […]

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 […]

The following scenario will never, ever happen in a law firm: A client walks into the reception of a major global law firm with a bill in hand and says to whomever happens to be at the reception desk, aggressively, “This bill arrived 90 days after the matter was closed and is 20 percent more […]

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!” […]

Defining Responsiveness

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A few weeks ago, I participated in a law firm practice group retreat. In preparation for the meeting, I spoke to the practice group leader about his goals for the group’s time together and specifically my program on client opinions, preferences and trends in client feedback. A bit skeptical of consultants in general, he was […]

Interview with James Koutras, Senior Corporate Counsel & Secretary Cristal USA Inc. Cristal USA Inc. is a Hunt Valley, Maryland-based manufacturer of titanium dioxide. The company has operations in Illinois, Maryland and Ohio. The parent company, Cristal, operates on five continents and is one of the largest producers of titanium dioxide and a leading producer […]

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, […]

Easy Living

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One of the phrases we hear most frequently in client feedback interviews is “Make my life easier.” Clients often describe that as the key to their most successful outside counsel relationships, and at other times they express that wish for broken relationships. But what does it really mean and how can we put it into […]

Mistakes…

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 “Mistakes will be made. If you make a mistake, figure out what you did, own up to it, figure out how to correct it and then learn from it so you don’t repeat it. In my mind, a successful lawyer or successful employee is one who knows how to take that mistake and make a […]

We often preach the importance of managing clients’ expectations—it’s a common theme explored in our client feedback interview work. Managing expectations takes many forms and often relates to deadlines, budgets, project plans, news and updates. But managing expectations starts long before that and is often about clear communication more than anything else. Set an agenda […]

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 […]

Wicker Park Group Partner Nat Slavin shared several important tips on how to avoid losing clients in a recent Law360 article titled “5 Tips to Keep Your Client From Breaking Up with You.”  Understand your client’s challenges. “Lawyers should ask what is going on in the client’s business in the next 12 months that they […]

While there continues to be much debate about the impact of the ACC’s Value Challenge in the U.S. market, there is no doubt that demonstrating value in key client relationships with law firms (and all clients for that matter) is critical. The Association of Corporate Counsel has announced that they are expanding the Value Challenge to Europe and created […]

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 […]

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 […]

In recent conversations with several in-house counsel, most are (unsurprisingly) revealing that they are freezing rates paid to counsel in 2009. What’s interesting is two-fold: 1. Many are not proactively notifying their outside counsel, but rather waiting to see if their outside counsel will actually raise rates in 2009, and notify them of the increase […]

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