In recent interviews, several themes keep popping up regardless of client industry or size of the firm serving the client. As we kick off the new year, consider these opportunities to give your clients more of what they want—while also deepening relationships and winning new work.
1. Offer education on the firm’s broader capabilities. Happy clients served by a particular practice area are usually very open to learning more about the firm beyond that core area. Consider how the firm’s offerings align with your clients’ needs and offer training to introduce your colleagues.
- “I don’t know what other people in the firm do. It would be nice to see what other areas of expertise they have.“
- “One thing that would be helpful is for them to say, ‘These are our sweet spots,’ and point out certain practice areas, partners or groups of partners that are really good at something. Just knowing that would help.“
2. Shift from theoretical to practical advice. Clients want their outside counsel to understand that the business is driving the decisions; the in-house team is there to support the business. There often isn’t a clear-cut answer so put yourself in your clients’ shoes and give them specific options to take to their internal stakeholders.
- “I appreciate their ability to think about a question from not only a legal perspective but also from an operational standpoint and how we put something into practice.”
- “I need someone who has worked [in this area] and gives me practical advice beyond the black and white language. It’s frustrating when I ask a direct question and need practical advice and I get a regurgitation of a rule that I could look up myself. That leaves me in no better position than before. That is not helpful. That will cause me to go to another firm.“
3. Learn your client’s business. Understanding the business, what’s important and why will set you up for providing advice that is applicable in the real world. Ask for an onsite visit of the production center, set up company news alerts and use the services or products.
- “I love when firms understand my business well enough to identify things I should be interested in before I do. This is what we are seeing out there. This is what you should do.“
- “I know a lot of attorneys that are really good at the legal work, but understanding and investing in our business is where the value comes in.“
4. Provide proactive industry insights. We often hear that lawyers don’t want to bother their clients, but time and time again, clients tell us they want to know you’re thinking about them and flagging relevant news or upcoming regulation changes. In-house counsel are often juggling various projects; don’t assume the latest development is already on their radar. Forward a firm alert or a news link with a couple of bullet points about why they should care. Use your broader lens of working with multiple clients in an industry to share trends.
- “If you become aware of something relevant in our space, reach out to let us know you thought about us and offer a discussion or an internal training. Those are the things that really differentiate one firm from another. It’s really invaluable. We want those emails! Even if we don’t respond, it’s not bothersome. We’ll either read it or not.“
- “Just the other day, [the attorney] sent me something about a relevant settlement. He does this periodically, and it’s so helpful.“