In the November 2010 issue of the American Lawyer new AmLaw editor-in-chief Robin Sparkman (former editor of sibling publication Corporate Counsel) opens the issue with an editorial that tackles head-on the resistance firm leadership has to engaging in client feedback. Select quotes include:
“Many partners simply don’t want their MP or chairman to meet with their biggest clients—even if it’s just a social call. Partners—no matter how unbelievably busy they are—are neverthe- less proprietary about these relationships.”
Sparkman then writes, “How quaint . . . Now, more than ever, there’s a class of chief in-house lawyers who are looking critically at their firms and reexamining those ties. The depth of these working relationships, and their regular up- keep for firms big and small, is critical.”
Sparkman addresses the disincentive and disinclination of law firm partners to open their relationships to other partners, including firm managing partners and firm chairs, and writes:
“If a managing partner . . . wants to meet/chat/delicately cross-sell with clients, and the clients want to meet with the MP, shouldn’t that be part of the client-management process?”
After a tongue-in-cheek apology about not wanting to tell firm leadership how to run their business, Sparkman writes:
“Loosening up the partner-client bonds is worth considering. Clients will feel the love. And at least when the relationship partner defects to another firm—and tries to take the client with him—the managing partner will already be on a first-name basis with the GC.”
Thank you, Robin, for your words of wisdom; or should I say music to my ears. And congratulations on setting the tone of your tenure in leading theAmerican Lawyer by reminding your readers that firms must always listen to the voice of the client. I look forward to watching the magazine, and legal industry, evolve under your leadership.