The centuries-old phrase “knowledge is power” has been creeping further and further into my interviews with in-house counsel and other business executives in recent months. In conversation after conversation with clients, we hear versions of the following sentiments:
- “Expertise is great, but you need to know our business and then bring us the resources to align with where we are going.”
- “I feel like the partner knows us well, but I am not sure that he knows other lawyers in the firm that could help us with our strategic goals.”
- “I am sure you are looking at trends in AI, but I’m not hearing about it.”
And the most direct and concerning type of comment: “It seems like there’s inconsistency when the firm brings in others and whether they know our communication style, our billing/budget expectations and how we like to have our expectations managed. They should do a better job of sharing not just the what the task is but the what we need in that task to make it helpful to us.”
In recent months we have posted articles in our blog on Client Intake, best practices in Client Communications, providing solutions around Client Priorities and Managing Expectations. In each of these posts, and in our work with Client Teams and training on Client Service as well as the post-interview recommendations from the aforementioned client interviews, we consistently remind partners to share what they know about a client with their colleagues, but the bar is too low.
When we look at the data in our feedback and analytics platform, ClienTELL, what drives growth, improvement in service and client loyalty is an expertise that is delivered in alignment with a deep understanding of the client’s business across firm practice areas, teams and attorneys.
So make a concerted and formal effort to share knowledge with the entire team serving clients—not just the day-to-day contacts but everyone who interacts with the client (even those brought in for discreet subsets of projects). The sharing of knowledge shows you are not just invested in the current matter but the relationship.
Some quick ways to share knowledge, particularly across groups of lawyers working for the same client, include:
- Relationship partners setting the tone that any client preference insights learned from individual interactions are shared.
- Proactively bringing insights and knowledge of a client’s industry to them.
- Sharing trends and insights across practice groups, departments, industry teams and working groups with everyone in that space. The lessons learned about one client often apply to many.
- Sharing information from events and conferences with both the internal firm teams and with clients.
- Seeking out “market” knowledge that clients are interested in and proactively sharing it with colleagues and clients.
- Generally increasing the volume of communication within all the above groups but most importantly within the group servicing the client.
Law firms sit on a treasure trove of knowledge. Invest the time in sharing what you know, and clients will see that as a differentiator and a competitive advantage.