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My mother has advanced heart failure and mild dementia. Her care needs have increased in the past few weeks, and I’ve been spending a lot of time with her. The other day, television news reports of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing jolted my mother’s memories from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. She may not have […]

Wicker Park Group Partner Nat Slavin recently had the opportunity to talk with Chase Williams and Ryan Klein about client feedback and loyalty on the Legal Mastermind podcast. They discussed several topics including: What leads a firm to seek client feedback How to approach client feedback, including in today’s challenging environment Actionable tips for attorneys […]

As summer comes to a close, many of us are still navigating these uncertain times. Amid the difficulties, law firm clients need their outside counsel to continue adapting  in how they deliver service, value, and the best possible client experience. What remains true is that engaging with clients in a meaningful way is as important—if […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of its most popular blog posts. This article was first posted in early 2020 and is one of our most read of the year. When interviewing law firm clients, one of the most frequent comments we hear centers around the imperative that firm lawyers share their knowledge of the […]

Wicker Park Group (WPG) and ALM Intelligence have released results of a survey evaluating the impact of COVID-19 on in-house counsel and legal departments. Responses from more than 130 in-house counsel from a wide array of industries, departments, and company sizes provided insights on the outlook of their businesses, departments, budgets, and outsourcing needs. The […]

My yoga studio has been offering virtual classes these past few months, and I’ve enjoyed rolling my mat out on the porch. I’ve been practicing regularly for more than fifteen years now and benefit physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. During a recent class, my favorite instructor directed us to be deliberate and intentional about connecting […]

We have been closely reviewing and analyzing the responses to the recent Impact of COVID-19 on Corporate Legal Departments survey we conducted in partnership with ALM Intelligence. More than 130 in-house counsel from a wide array of industries, departments and company sizes provided feedback on their law firm service experience during COVID-19. Most all agree […]

Most of us have been working from home in the midst of a pandemic for more than three months. Depending on your situation, that has meant juggling children without school or childcare, caring for aging parents, significantly blurred lines between home and office, remote learning, endless cooking, economic struggles and, for some, battling illness or […]

The Need for Speed

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Over the past few months, we’ve been studying our 2019 client feedback research, conducting ongoing client feedback interviews via phone and Zoom for law firm clients and working with ALM on a survey to uncover how clients are being impacted by COVID-19. As we compared the views from last year to 2020, clients continue to […]

Last week we launched a survey in partnership with ALM Intelligence to uncover how U.S. legal departments and, more importantly, individual in-house lawyers are being impacted by COVID-19. For those of you who are reading this blog as it comes out and are in house, the survey is still open and can be taken by […]

As the U.S. begins to cautiously reopen, we are hearing from many of our law firm clients about how they are approaching the return to offices. Some have already started to bring in a limited number of lawyers and staff to offices, while others don’t foresee any return in the coming months. The circumstances of […]

“Can you give us another 90 days to pay that bill?” “What discounts can you give us?” “Our revenue is significantly down. How can you help us through this time?” These are the types of questions facing every outside counsel during this new COVID-19 reality. While the level of loss varies depending on the industry, […]

I’ll admit I’ve not been a fan of video conferencing until very recently. I’ve been working from a home office since 2005, traveling frequently to be face to face with clients. My amateur technology skills and frequently barking dogs along with the hassles of staging appropriate backgrounds and putting on “work” clothes and makeup always […]

In January, I was talking to an always inspiring attorney about his 2019 business development success and his plans for 2020. When I asked him why he felt like 2019 had been so successful, he credited three things: being more intentional in his efforts, creating better habits and getting comfortable being uncomfortable. Since many attorneys […]

I love Maya Angelou. I know she has passed away, but the feeling doesn’t feel past tense to me. I love the sound of her voice, her ability to make the complex simple and her beautiful words. I often turn to her writing in times of stress, and a few days ago I listened to […]

“One size fits one” has been our mantra at Wicker Park Group since we formed our firm in 2007. And while we have never wavered in sharing that philosophy with our law firm clients, now it’s truer than ever. As we reach out to our clients, check in and offer to help in any small […]

Over the past few days, I’ve had many conversations with friends and colleagues about the coronavirus. Most of us are sharing information with one another and talking through how it might impact us in the coming weeks. Your clients are no different, and this is a good time to connect with them on a top-of-mind […]

Do Your Clients Like You?

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Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of its most popular blog posts. This article first appeared in 2018. Advanced technology was supposed to free us up to work less, spend time with our loved ones and pursue hobbies. Instead, these devices are just shackling us to work and creating blurred lines between our work and […]

Last year my stepdaughter took a class at her college’s January interim term called “Mindful Reading.” The class time and homework over the one-month minimester were dedicated to reading whatever books the students desired, discussing them and writing about them. That and a million other things about her college experience make me want to go […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our more popular posts. This one, written in July 2019, was one of last year’s most read blog posts. As we constantly hear from clients, they aren’t looking for outside counsel with the greatest number of Chambers rankings or the most impressive resumes. Beyond baseline expectations like responsiveness […]

When interviewing law firm clients, one of the most frequent comments we hear centers around the imperative that firm lawyers share their knowledge of the clients’ needs with others in the firm. It’s a simple concept but one that is often forgotten or not even considered. In a very recent interview, the executive said essentially: […]

Our copyeditor, Thames, recently sent me an article written by Jessi Hempel that talks about the annual Edelman Trust Barometer. If you are unfamiliar with the barometer, it incorporates interviews of 34,000 people across 28 countries on whether they trust institutions “to do the right thing.” The survey focuses on four industries—NGOs, businesses, governments and […]

Decoding Client Culture

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Every organization has a unique culture—the personality, values, beliefs and guidelines that dictate behaviors and shape decision-making. The cultural “norms” of an organization may be clearly dictated or more subtle, spoken or unspoken. Regardless, outside counsel who seek to understand their clients’ unique cultures and adapt their services accordingly are often better equipped to be […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our more popular blog posts. This one, from January 2019, was one of the most-read posts last year.  This is not intended to be a post about traditional New Year’s resolutions but is a post on some things every lawyer interested in client service should think about and […]

As we enter the new decade, our society has incorporated feedback into almost every aspect of daily life from informal comments on social media to online reviews of products and services. And while Wicker Park Group now works with more law firms than ever on feedback programs, we still see resistance to the idea of […]

Happy New Year! Last week Nat challenged us to take action in 2020—to listen to clients in order to adapt servicing offerings and better understand their changing needs, preferences and pressures. As he points out, listening well requires skill, collaboration, an open mind, courage to ask the hard questions, a long-term view and time. That’s a […]

First and foremost, thank you. During the last dozen years, the partners of Wicker Park Group have had the great privilege of working with some of the finest, and kindest, people imaginable from law firm chairs to young professionals brand new to the industry. We have interviewed in person and by phone thousands of clients […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This article was originally posted in December 2018. While the holidays are filled with beautiful traditions and special moments, this time of year can feel dominated by the to-do lists, gifts and stress. Over the last several weeks, the topics of holiday stress, […]

We get to work with really smart and insightful attorneys, and while we are often hired to help teach them new skills and client insights, the reality is we learn a lot from them. I walk away with different perspectives and ideas from each interaction. One of my favorite attorneys is really trying to retool […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This article, originally posted in July, was one of the most read in 2019. There is a word that has been used in five of my last six client interviews, unsolicited, to describe what separates a lawyer or law firm from the others—intangibles. […]

This week I am being featured on a podcast called The Thought Leadership Project, hosted by Jay Harrington and Tom Nixon. As a point of reference, Harrington shared some interesting findings from a recent LinkedIn/Edelman study on thought leadership. The questions centered around what law firms must do to be thought leaders and how the […]

We recently received a very nice note from our youngest son’s baseball coach saying, “I’m bullish about his future, both on and off the field of baseball.” He talked about his potential, his attitude and maturity, his love for the sport and his willingness to work on his weaknesses and receive feedback. I don’t share […]

In the past few weeks, I have conducted a number of interviews with law firm clients who emphasized the importance of outside counsel working in collaboration with their own law firm service teams—the in-house legal department as well as other law firms, vendors and advisors. The organizations were very diverse, from large, sophisticated legal departments […]

It’s that time of year when firms finalize (or start) their holiday gift-giving plans. As a brief Public Service Announcement, we thought we should share some ideas and best practices for folks in the legal industry to consider when sending out holiday gifts. Know your client’s gift policies. Many companies have very specific gift policies […]

Last week, I shared five tips to come out of a recent client panel. As I said in the previous post, most client panels cover well-worn client service topics. But there’s a reason the same topics get discussed: In-house lawyers continue to seek outside counsel who don’t just provide the necessary work but who proactively […]

I suspect I have listened to and/or facilitated over 50 client panels in the last fifteen years. While some of the themes have evolved over the years, it always surprises me how consistent the messages are no matter the industry, age/background of the in-house counsel or size of the company. Given my extensive exposure to […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This article, one of our most read last year, was originally posted in February 2018.  When I ask a group of lawyers why they get hired, I usually get one of these default answers: “We’ve worked with them before.” “They trust us.” “We […]

In last week’s blog post, Tara wrote about the outcomes of client feedback interviews and even shared recent recommendations we have made to our law firm clients after talking to their clients. We make those recommendations based on our experiences interviewing thousands of clients on behalf of firms. The themes in those actions map directly […]

Lawyers and firms considering a client feedback program typically want to hear about the type of feedback we solicit from clients. But they are often more interested in the activities or results that come directly from client interviews. We believe some of the best value we provide to our law firm clients is taking the […]

“The partner made heroic efforts to step in and get things back on track and make things right. I appreciate the appropriate modifications being made quickly and was pleased with the outcome. That [frustrating experience] did not affect my willingness or inclination to use or recommend the firm in the future.” As we’ve written about […]

In a client feedback interview last week, I asked a senior in-house counsel what drives the most successful relationships with outside counsel. Without batting an eye, the counsel responded, “Understand what we are trying to accomplish as a business. Start there.” The conversation continued with similar comments: “It’s all there. It’s what we talk about […]

You’ve heard phrases like “It’s a relationship business” or “It’s all about who you know” or “He/she just knows the right people” many times. In the last several months, I can think of at least 10 situations where my husband or I have helped someone get in the door, move up the pile, make an […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This article, one of our most read in 2019 so far, was originally posted in May.  Wicker Park Group has recently conducted interviews with a number of rainmakers from different firms, and one of the clear differentiators among this group is their ability […]

Many of you have probably attended a school orientation meeting recently. We moved our college sophomore into her dorm this weekend ahead of most students’ arrival because she will be part of the freshman orientation leadership team. This private liberal arts school does a really remarkable job of preparing hundreds of wide-eyed 18- and 19-year-olds […]

During the last 12 years, we have conducted thousands of client feedback interviews. In preparing for those interviews, we talk to the relationship attorneys about, well, the relationship with the client. We ask about goals, successes, the people they work with and the teams that supports them. Inevitably, the conversation shifts to how we can […]

We conducted a business development training workshop last week that included one-on-one coaching with each of the participants. The purpose of the coaching sessions is to take the training, advice and exercises from the sessions and make them personal and relevant to each participant’s practice, prospects and clients. As part of the pre-work, we ask […]

This is the third post in our 2019 Summer Reading Series. The first post, about driving client loyalty, can be found here. The second post, about improving meetings, can be found here. We’ve been talking a lot about the seven secrets to success and how to cultivate these skills in ourselves and in law firms. […]

As has become somewhat of a tradition here at Wicker Park Group, we use August as an opportunity to visit some essential themes in building client loyalty. So, it’s time to start planning for the end of summer and take stock of what law firms and more specifically individual lawyers can do to deliver extraordinary […]

There is a word that has been used in five of my last six client interviews, unsolicited, to describe what separates a lawyer or law firm from the others—intangibles. Sure, clients want smart lawyers who know their industry and business deeply and who have expertise, but in this market these qualities are expectations, not differentiators. […]

As we constantly hear from clients, they aren’t looking for outside counsel with the greatest number of Chambers rankings or the most impressive resumes. Beyond baseline expectations like responsiveness and capabilities, clients want outside counsel who are enjoyable to work with and approach matters with a creative, problem-solving mentality. One way to encourage those attributes, […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This post, one of the most read last year, was originally posted in April 2018.  There is a recurring theme among our client interviews and electronic feedback surveys these days, and acting on it is a win/win for clients and lawyers. Clients want their […]

This is the second post in our 2019 Summer Reading Series. The first post, about driving client loyalty, can be found here. Gatherings. It’s what we do. In the past three weeks, I have hosted seven sets of houseguests in our home. Most are friends and their families arriving in the mountains of Western North […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This post, one of the most read in the past year, was originally posted in September 2018.  The fall back-to-school time has always been a better time for me to incorporate new habits or routines than January. But no matter your preferred time […]

After 40+ years working with college students, accountants and lawyers. After a career collaborating with hundreds of clients, colleagues, co-workers and friends. After countless meetings and calls and committees and programs, I am  retiring—mostly. Thank you. To my friends, mentors and colleagues for your encouragement and guidance, particularly at those times when I needed it […]

We are almost halfway through the 2019 year! Many of us will be headed to the beach, the lake or a planned family vacation soon. School is out, and the routines become less demanding. The days are longer, but the office is often a bit quieter and slower. It can be the perfect time to […]

A few weeks ago at the CXps 2019 conference in Durham, North Carolina, James Kane (always a crowd pleaser) spoke about the secrets to building relationships that will last. In his program, he previewed a simple framework for understanding loyalty that combines the latest research in neurology, anthropology and behavioral psychology with 100,000 years of human […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This post, one of the most read in the first half of this year, was originally posted in February.  In recent months, we have been asked more than ever to help law firms improve their client service standards and initiatives. In essence, what we are […]

Wicker Park Group has recently conducted interviews with a number of rainmakers from different firms, and one of the clear differentiators among this group is their ability to weave business development into day-to-day work. These are very busy lawyers, but they still manage to multitask and achieve the small client touchpoints that lead to new […]

I’ve worked with about 100 firms in the last 12 years, primarily around client feedback, and there is one most important element to the entire feedback process: what the firm does to act on the feedback. In order to effectively act on the feedback, firms must: Engage the client Involve other parties as needed Clearly […]

This is my last year as a law firm consultant. I’ve enjoyed the work (or at least most of it), but I’m ready to transition to a new set of goals and aspirations. Facing this life change has left me reflecting on the leaders who encouraged and shaped my success over the years. As leaders […]

I am a big fan of podcasts. I love learning new things and being inspired, and podcasts often provide the added bonus of allowing me to multitask. I listen to them during travel downtime, in the car or on a run. Recently someone shared with me the podcast WorkLife by Adam Grant, and after listening […]

One of the biggest struggles facing law firms today is differentiation. Smart, capable attorneys are everywhere, and firms only stand out when they offer more than proficiency. Offering a superior client experience is one of the best ways to differentiate in the marketplace, and one of my recent favorite resources for improving the client experience […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This post, one of the most read last year, was originally posted in June 2018. In the last two weeks, I have conducted 18 client feedback interviews for a variety of firms across industries ranging from high tech to old-line manufacturing. Interviewees have […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This is the fourth in a series of posts updated from 2013. The qualities explored continue to resonate with what clients are telling us they desperately need from outside counsel. So far, we have written about Zest, Grit and Self Control, Gratitude and Optimism and Social […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This is the third in a series of posts updated from 2013. The qualities explored continue to resonate with what clients are telling us they desperately need from outside counsel. So far, we have written about Zest, Grit and Self Control as well as Gratitude and […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This is the second in a series of posts updated from 2013. The qualities explored continue to resonate with what clients are telling us they desperately need from outside counsel. Last week, we wrote about Zest, Grit and Self Control. The character traits we […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This is the first in a series of posts written in 2013, which we will repost in the coming weeks. The qualities explored in these posts resonate with what clients are telling us they desperately need from outside counsel. A fascinating article in The New York […]

Fifteen years ago, celebrated business guru Jim Collins published Good to Great with the help of a team of researchers. The book is widely regarded as a modern classic of management theory. The author tracked 28 successful companies in an attempt to uncover those characteristics that separate great companies from good companies. What makes a […]

We speak a lot about time in our industry—lack thereof, making the most of it, how we bill for it, how it is often at someone else’s discretion and the best (and worst) ways we spend it. Yet I see little evaluation of how we spend our time and what we might want to do […]

In recent conversations with newly minted law firm partners, I’ve noticed a sense of obligation to go forth, find a worthy organization and secure a “board” position. Many see their mentors and other senior lawyers in the firm serving on boards and view it as another box to check on the partnership career trajectory. Most […]

In recent months, we have been asked more than ever to help law firms improve their client service standards and initiatives. In essence, what we are really being asked is to help law firms create accountability around client service. The reality is that most firms have client service standards, both formalized and implied. Most lawyers define client […]

As anyone who knows Wicker Park will testify, client success is defined by client satisfaction. Clients, according to WPG, want three things: Solve my problem (or opportunity); Make my life easier; and I want to like you. Allow me to share three examples of simple customer service that surprised and delighted me and made my […]

Diversity Matters

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Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This post, one of the most read last year, was originally posted in January 2018. We tend to end our interviews with a parting question. It’s usually something along the lines of, “Is there anything we haven’t asked or discussed that you would […]

At two weeks into the New Year, some people are still diligently plugging away on resolutions to develop better habits, make healthier choices and cut through the “clutter” in their lives. And some have already given up on the effort. Some WPG team members, inspired by the new Netflix series, are Marie Kondo-ing their closets, […]

This is not intended to be a post about traditional New Year’s resolutions but is a post on some things every lawyer interested in client service should think about and act on now. One of the most frequent topics to come out of both client feedback interviews and our work with individual lawyers and client […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This post, one of the most read in 2018, was originally posted in May. Too often, outside counsel misconstrue what it means to understand a client’s business. They confuse the simple concept of what a company does with a deeper understanding of why […]

True story (so I am told): A young billionaire—let’s call him Bill—was given the opportunity to pitch to the owners of a major sports league. Bill’s purpose was to convince the owners to expand the league and add a team in Bill’s hometown. The presentation was impressive. Bill assured the group that he could provide […]

While the holidays are filled with beautiful traditions and special moments, this time of year can feel dominated by the to-do lists, gifts and stress. Over the last several weeks, the topics of holiday stress, wish lists and “managing it all” have become common discussions during our interviews or meetings with clients. We often ask […]

The Hustle and Bustle…

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This time of year, you don’t even need to ask friends and colleagues how they are doing. You know what the answer will be: “I’m so busy.” “I’m slammed.” “I am so behind.” “I’m so tired.” Our society equates value with busyness. But one of the best gifts you can give your clients, your friends and […]

We are entering the final months of the year, which is often a time of reflection (and collection). At WPG, we’ve been reminded of the valuable year-end actions that will show your clients you are listening and are focused on providing the best client service possible. No matter the stage of your career or your […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This post originally appeared in April 2017. 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 […]

For most of my 30 years in professional services marketing and business development, I worked in house. It took many years for the profession to remove the stigma of marketing and business development support as unprofessional and unnecessary. I understood early on that in order to be successful (and remain sane), my team and I […]

I have been in the legal industry for almost 20 years now: two decades of working with lawyers and law firms trying to create change, inspire innovation, improve the client relationship and help lawyers deepen and grow their books of business. I’ve learned a great deal, including that change is hard for this industry and […]

Some people love attending industry conferences and events to network, get out of the office and learn something new. Others dread the scene entirely. But regardless of your attitude, conferences can be a rare opportunity to connect with clients, prospects and referral sources all in the same place. Follow these six tips to make the […]

My wife and I were on vacation last week. She and I have many things in common, including the fact that we both work for law firms and both own our businesses. She has a great team that supports her, and I have the world’s most amazing partners. We also both love our all-too-infrequent vacations […]

After graduate school and prior to attending law school, I taught college-level communications and theater arts for four years. What I enjoyed and remember most during those early years in my career was witnessing firsthand when a student would have an “aha” moment—understanding a concept or delivering a speech to an appreciative audience or nailing […]

Most lawyers tend to be good communicators. Either written or verbal, they thrive on words. After working with lawyers for over 20 years, one thing has stayed constant: In times of greatest strength and significant stress, lawyers find comfort in words. It is often what makes them excellent at their jobs, particularly the technical and […]

The fall back-to-school time has always been a better time for me to incorporate new habits or routines than January. I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. There is something about the shift from carefree, long and hot summer days to shorter, crisp fall days that seems to encourage a back-to-business attitude. So […]

Last week, I had the pleasure of conducting a workshop at a law firm on how to moderate a panel. It’s an unusual topic but one that comes up over and over again at firms. Too often, partners and associates are tasked with speaking at industry conferences—as stand-alone presenters, on panels and leading panels. In […]

While preparing for the recent three-part blog posts on retirement and client succession planning, I reached out to the Wicker Park Partners for their advice on the best ways for a senior partner to transfer client responsibility to a junior or mid-level partner. Not surprisingly, they emphasized the critical importance of client participation in the process. […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This post, one of our most read in the first half of this year, originally appeared in February. When I ask a group of lawyers why they get hired, I usually get one of these default answers: “We’ve worked with them before.” “They trust us.” […]

Current news almost always creeps into the conversations during client feedback interviews. And lately, we are hearing a lot from sophisticated clients about the growing focus on managed services and the increasing legal professional headcounts in the Big Four accounting firms. As you would expect, it’s the tax and M&A folks in companies that have […]

Many of the attorneys we coach rely too heavily on “entertainment” as their primary business development activity. While sharing a meal, playing golf or attending an event together can be a very effective way to strengthen client relationships, random acts of entertainment will not result in business development success. Many clients bemoan any additional invitations […]

During the proverbial dog days of summer, outside counsel often assume clients are disinterested in interacting with them and are taking some kind of “break.” But like many assumptions made by law firm lawyers, this one is worth rethinking. We find in our conversations and interviews with in-house counsel that August is often a time […]

This is the third post in a three-part series on succession planning. You can find the first post here and the second post here.  Many senior lawyers are not receptive to the notion of retirement, which makes the succession/transfer of clients to younger partners difficult to say the least. As I noted in a previous […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This post, one of our most read last year, originally appeared in October 2017. Clients are increasingly asked to do more with less. They have greater responsibilities, have more work to do and often spend all day going from meeting to meeting or […]

It is hard to believe that we are halfway through 2018. Time flies when you are having fun! Many of you have vacations planned over the next several months, and summer is a perfect time to step back and assess what you are doing well and where you might need to check in with your […]

At WPG, we read (and listen) a lot. We read online resources like business and legal publications and listen to podcasts and audiobooks. I personally like good old-fashioned books and just finished The Culture Code. In it, Daniel Coyle unravels the secrets of highly successful and high-performing groups and offers some great tips and tools […]

Wicker Park Group (WPG), a consultancy specializing in client feedback and business development strategy and training, is pleased to announce that Sanjiv N. “Sanju” Kripalani has joined the firm as a Partner based in Portland, Oregon. Mr. Kripalani, a former business transactions lawyer, applied his unique skill set to drive Lane Powell’s business development and client […]

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