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All posts tagged Building Relationships

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

This is the second post in a three-part series on succession planning. The first post was published in May. When is the best time to retire? It’s a complicated question with no cookie-cutter answers. Timing may be the most important ingredient in a successful retirement—and client transfer—recipe. This is particularly true for law firms. Many […]

Tara Weintritt, Partner, Wicker Park Group Daniel H. Weintraub, Managing Director and General Counsel, Audax Group Here at Wicker Park Group, we have been interviewing clients on behalf of law firms for over a decade. The feedback has evolved after more than 3,000 interviews, but the core messages are similar. Clients want you to spend […]

In 2016, we shared a popular blog post about the four rules of loyalty laid out by Peter Shankman in his book Zombie Loyalists, which is a study in how to create rabid fans. The legal landscape is changing rapidly, but these essential strategies to build loyalty remain relevant and are worth sharing again. Be transparent. While it was much […]

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 the company does it and how it is impacted by broader industry trends. In many client relationships, outside counsel wait for the phone to ring, listen […]

This is the first post in a three-part series on succession planning. I’m currently working with a young partner at a Midwest firm of 300+ attorneys. Her business development plans include what she calls her “inheritance strategy.” As the name implies, she is working with a senior partner to acquire his clients when he retires. Yet, […]

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 lawyers to be more proactive and routinely tell us they wish their lawyers would take the time to pick up the phone, schedule a visit or […]

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 personal lives. Everyone is just working more, and that’s especially apparent in our industry. In the past few […]

The weather should be better, and the days are getting longer. Spring is upon us, which means it’s time to contemplate some professional spring cleaning. The legal-industry version of spring cleaning is not much different from what you do around your house and in your personal life to get organized and leave behind winter hibernation. […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This post originally appeared in May 2017. At Wicker Park Group, we conduct many business development workshops each year and believe strongly in the value of case studies as the best way for attorneys, usually acting in groups, to practice “meeting” with a […]

If feedback was easy, then it would happen every day, in real time, and there would never be a single doubt about any of the themes most critical to every client-law firm relationship: Do you understand your clients’ needs? Do you know how to make their lives easier? Do you know what is important to […]

It was fourteen years ago, while CMO at a fast-growing law firm, that I interviewed—and eventually hired—one of the best sales professionals in the legal industry. Our candidate was introduced to me by a partner at the firm who understood the value a sales professional could bring to the success of the firm. Hiring new […]

Let Me Count the Ways…

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In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, I decided to take a look at WPG client feedback reports from the past few months to see what clients say they really love about their law firm relationships. Clients really feel the love when their outside counsel are generous, insightful, adaptable, consistent, collaborative, fun to be around, thoughtful gift […]

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 have the resources they expect.” “We are great lawyers at a great firm.” Yes, and no. Clients hire lawyers that can say all of the above. But […]

Throughout my many years working with law firms, I have found that interactive games can be a welcome addition to any firm retreat. In particular, games that help lawyers learn more about their colleagues are often more effective than traditional practice group panel presentations. As firms grow and change, it is important for individuals to […]

Diversity Matters

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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 like to talk about and/or we should have asked?” Interestingly, the last three of four interviews I have held concluded with the same response: diversity. Maybe it […]

Building client loyalty—particularly in this legal environment—takes real effort. You need to design your clients’ experiences, and that must incorporate the voice of the client. This May 21-23, join Wicker Park Group in attending CXps 2018 (Client Experience in Professional Services) and learn how to design client experiences that succeed. Learn more and register here.

Adaptability. In every conversation I have with in-house counsel and the lawyers who support and serve them, the single most important trait clients value and lawyers pride themselves on is adaptability. Often other words are used to describe this highly valued trait, but it really comes down to adaptability as the key to successful relationships. […]

Wicker Park Group periodically revisits some of our most popular blog posts. This post, our most read in 2017, was originally posted in November. Those readers familiar with Wicker Park Group are aware of our key theme in 2017: Adding Value. For those of you new to the concept, adding value is one of the […]

I recently helped a former colleague explore new job opportunities, and I was reminded of how often we rely on making connections. We network both professionally and personally constantly: seeking a new client, finding a recommended doctor, getting tickets to a sought-after event or finding the right office space. The list could go on and […]

Take the Meeting

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As part of a recent business development workshop, we invited a friend (we will call him Bob) who is the “partnership partner” for a well-known venture capital fund to serve as the “prospect” for our case study. The context for the case study was intentionally sketchy because our prospect was neither responsible for—nor likely much […]

December is a busy month for most law firms. In addition to the holidays and hectic schedules, it is budget and collection season for most firms, and everyone at the firm is laser-focused on closing out the year. Tensions are high, hours are long and conversations can be uncomfortable. Lawyers are pressed daily to collect […]

We’ve written countless blog posts about the importance of talking with clients “off the clock” to seek feedback and gain a better understanding of their businesses, strategic goals, preferences, priorities and pressures. The attorneys doing this well have seen the simple effort make a dramatic difference in the strength of their client relationships as well […]

This post was originally published in November 2014, but the tips are still relevant and valuable as we enter into the final weeks of the year. Happy Thanksgiving from Wicker Park Group! Here at WPG, Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays. It allows for cherished time with friends and family. Most of us, at […]

Last week, I taught a public speaking class to a group of five first-year associates at a mid-sized law firm. All of the associates were fast approaching—or initially enjoying—their 30s. They were smart, energetic and happy to be in a reputable firm with a good-paying position to help defray law school debt. As we reflected […]

Those readers familiar with Wicker Park Group are aware of our key theme in 2017: Adding Value. For those of you new to the concept, adding value is one of the most important qualities necessary to building long-term, trusting, meaningful client relationships. Clients routinely mention adding value as one of the key differentiators of their […]

As firms plan for 2018, we spend a lot of time talking with existing law firm clients as well as those that are (finally) prepared to launch a formal client feedback program. As part of that conversation (and even in formal RFPs), we are asked to share our philosophy on client feedback. Our philosophy can […]

This is the third of three posts on introductions. In our first post, we focused on introduction fundamentals of effective in-person introductions. Introductions are personal, positive and connective. They build goodwill with very little effort.  Most rainmakers are good networkers, in no small part because they know how to connect people through introductions. Introductions are […]

The two most frequently asked questions we answer when working with our clients at the beginning of any engagement are: How do we handle difficult feedback? What happens if we don’t have a formalized system to act and follow up on the feedback we get from our clients? Those two questions are more connected than […]

This is the second of three posts on the value of effective introduction skills. Read the first one, The Importance of a Good Introduction, here. Twenty years ago, I was working as the business development director for the Portland Office of Cooper & Lybrand, the international accounting firm that merged to form PricewaterhouseCoopers. The office […]

Wicker Park Group will periodically revisit some of our most popular blog posts. This post, one of the most read in the first half of 2017, was originally posted in January. Howard Schultz recently announced he is stepping down from his role as CEO and Chair of Starbucks to focus on the company’s plans to build high-end […]

At WPG, we read a lot. In the spirit of back to school and reporting on “summer reading,” I share recommendations for two great books about the skills that clients we interview often describe as the traits distinguishing extraordinary from average legal service. Empathy, emotional intelligence, communication skills and the ability to cultivate relationships are essential […]

At a recent leadership roundtable event, WPG facilitated a discussion among managing partners and firm leaders on what they most need from CMOs and marketing teams. The ideas that came out of the discussion aren’t earth shattering—but they are the most essential (and often unsaid) ways in which marketing teams propel their firms forward. The […]

This is the first blog in a three-part series on the value of introductions and how good introduction skills lead to better client service and new business. Check back soon for the second installment. Introductions are everywhere. Think about it: Who among us doesn’t enjoy introducing our friends and colleagues to each other? It’s easy, it’s fun […]

Given what we do for a living, we are often traveling by plane and spend quite a bit of quality time with specific airline carriers. The three of us happen to fly three different airlines, but the experience tends to be the same (not unlike the experience with similarly-sized, capable, leading law firms.) Air travel […]

Firms today are missing out on work because they’re failing to invest in a hugely important client contact: the in-house legal operations professional. Building relationships with GCs and in-house counsel is very valuable, but it often fails to translate into more work if you’re not also communicating regularly with the director of legal operations team. […]

We always tell our law firm clients that communication is the key to the best client relationships. And communication takes many forms: the written word, the business-practical and commercial advice, the tone you set when talking to in-house counsel, the way in-house counsel want and expect to communicate for any and every matter and, of […]

It is the rare firm these days that does not offer some form of career and/or business development coaching services to its attorneys. Just about everyone in legal marketing has been asked to “coach” lawyers. Often, however, coaching attorneys in business development is easier said than done. And it can be complicated when succession issues […]

We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, originally posted in June 2016, was one of last year’s most read posts. At the recent Client Experience in Professional Services conference in Durham, North Carolina, Stan Phelps shared his insights about winning the hearts of customers and influencing positive […]

I get the pleasure of seeing some pretty amazing places of business for my job. We get sent to all sorts of businesses all around the world to interview law firm clients and learn about their businesses and how the law firms can serve them better: manufacturing plants, industry giants, privately-held businesses that started from […]

Interview With Rich Cohen, President and General Counsel Corporate Creations Corporate Creations is the third largest provider of registered agent and compliance services nationwide for Fortune 1000 companies, Global 2000 companies and private companies. It also provides registered agent services for many law firms and their clients. Corporate Creations is a privately held company. It […]

The following article, written by Susan Kostal, was posted June 1 as part of JD Supra’s Perspectives series. I’ve attended many panels where in-house counsel share their likes and dislikes, but in the last year the tone has changed. In-house attorneys are increasingly dissatisfied, they tell us, because they can’t have the kind of conversations they […]

If you are like me, most weeks you find and save an article or two about legal marketing and business development. This past week, while sifting through the stack, I was reminded of a scene from the movie Finding Forrester. Released in 2000, it is the story of an unlikely friendship between a reclusive writer […]

We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, originally posted in June 2016, was one of last year’s most read posts. One of our more popular blog posts in 2015 talked about the importance of actively listening to clients in a world of many distractions. We quoted author Sherry Turkle’s observations about […]

For the last decade, we have worked with firms to launch, lead, develop and support client feedback interviews. And in almost every firm, the managing partner or chair is either already conducting relationship visits or planning to do them as soon as possible. They often come to us to discuss how to both train the […]

At Wicker Park Group, we conduct many business development workshops each year and believe strongly in the value of case studies as the best way for attorneys, usually acting in groups, to practice “meeting” with a client prospect for the purpose of developing rapport. Consistently, the experience is eye-opening. In practice, most lawyers spend too […]

Albeit unplanned and a bit happenstance, I have been interviewing quite a few alumni of our law firm clients. Alumni are great interview candidates for many reasons. They have insights and perceptions that go beyond the average firm client. They have “experienced both sides” and have an appreciation of what they would do differently. They […]

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