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All posts tagged Understanding the Client

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 ranged from general counsel to entrepreneurs to F500 CFOs to intellectual property managers. Many of the GCs and other clients share similar top-of-mind concerns and needs. And […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 conference call to conference call. Email is often the best way to get messages to clients during hectic days, but their inboxes are on overload. Many […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Wicker Park Group is revisiting some of the processes around Client Feedback Interviews in a new series of blog posts called “Back to Basics.” This is the fourth article in the series. You can find the first article about how to choose clients for feedback here, the second article about the importance of preparation here and the third […]

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 responsibility. And unlike a traditional gift, you have to do much more than just send a thank you note […]

Make It Easy

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At the beginning of 2015, I was given the great opportunity to become a strategic partner with the Wicker Park Group, the preeminent firm focused on client feedback in the legal industry today. At our first meeting, I asked the group: “After more than 2,000 client feedback interviews, what is it that clients care about […]

The bar is low. Despite tremendous progress in the past 20 years, law firms continue to lag behind their clients’ industries and other professional service firms when it comes to innovation, client experience and client engagement. Again and again, we hear law firm clients say the attorneys and law firms that stand out from the […]

An IT lawyer recently made a striking observation to me. He works in the flat-screen TV industry and noted that a flat-screen TV from twenty years ago could cost $20,000 or more and lacked much of today’s technology. But every year, the technology has gotten better as the cost has declined. You can now buy […]

Wicker Park Group is revisiting some of the processes around Client Feedback Interviews in a new series of blog posts called “Back to Basics.” This is the third article in the series. You can find the first article about how to choose clients for feedback here and the second article about the importance of preparation here. Most […]

At the end of a client feedback interview last week, the senior in-house counsel I was speaking with summed up the relationship by saying, “At the end of the day, they get all my work because they make me look good.” It is that simple. In an era where competition is greater than ever and […]

Many years ago, one of my prior firms looked to hire its first business development “lead generator.” The candidate we selected had graduated from law school and served as a client of the firm. He had an impressive network of contacts and understood his role—linking potential clients with attorneys at the firm. To avoid potential […]

Wicker Park Group is revisiting some of the processes around Client Feedback Interviews in a new series of blog posts called “Back to Basics.” This is the second article in the series. You can find the first article about how to choose clients for feedback here. Whether conducting interviews face to face or via telephone, we recommend […]

We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, originally posted in June, was one of this year’s most read posts. Last week, a friend of mine here in New Orleans asked me for a referral for a good internal medicine physician. Being a corporate lawyer by training and practice, I […]

We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, from October 2015, was one of last year’s most read posts.   In a recent post, we discussed the value of using stories in pitching you, your firm and what sets you apart. The value of telling your story was also mentioned in […]

End-of-the-year travels have had me on more airplanes, staying in more hotels, eating in more restaurants and visiting more law firm offices than usual. During my travels, I experienced some of the best and some of the worst hospitality imaginable. On one trip, weather and travel delays typical of the season resulted in missed connections, […]

Many law firms understand how to meet their client’s biggest and most obvious client service preferences. We’ve all laughed about (and learned from) the story of the firm that FedExed its RFP response to UPS and was summarily dismissed from the process as well as the firm that forgot to remove competitor products from the […]

We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, from November 2015, was one of last year’s most read posts.   There seems to be a theme with our clients these past few months: change. We have three different clients who recently hired new CMOs, and there are significant changes […]

Wicker Park Group recently had the opportunity to speak with Doug Luftman, the Chief Innovation Officer and General Counsel at Lecorpio. He shared insights on what GCs are looking for from outside counsel and how to develop and strengthen those relationships. Luftman said, “The most valuable thing is outside counsel being savvy about my business and having true […]

The election of Donald Trump as President has sent shock waves around the world. Indeed, the unexpected outcome has created many questions and much uncertainty about what will happen in the next few months and years. What opportunities does this transition of power to a business executive with strong conservative leanings but no government experience […]

Fall is one of our busiest interview seasons at Wicker Park Group. Just last month, I conducted over 30 individual interviews. The companies ranged in size, revenue, region, complexity and legal department sophistication, yet the feedback themes were very consistent and tended to focus on communication. Firms received praise and appreciation for frequent, collaborative, consumable […]

While I was talking to a law firm partner about one of her most significant clients last week, she said, “Every time we have face time with the client, we walk away with several new projects. But that is so hard because we are so busy just managing the work and their complicated financial reporting […]

In the past month, I have moderated multiple in-house counsel panels (both in public forums and at private law firm retreats), interviewed more than a dozen in-house counsel and led client service workshops at law firms. In every instance, I was struck by the widening gap between what clients want from their outside counsel and […]

How to Lose a Client

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We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, from October 2015, was one of last year’s most read posts. After twenty years as general counsel of a financial institution and a large medical center, I have heard plenty of complaints from our executives about working with outside counsel. In […]

Every Saturday morning, five baby boomers including myself join together for a 4- to 5-mile run. We’re not fast, but we are committed and make it whenever we can. Four of us work in legal: one is a solo practitioner, two work in different mid-size firms and me (the token business development consultant). Bob, the […]

Wayne Gretzky is famous for being one of the greatest hockey players in history. He is also known for inspiring thousands with his quotes. One of my favorite Gretzky quotes is: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” It is simple but incredibly powerful and exactly […]

I was recently challenged to explore what client service will look like in 2026. The good news is the conversation has already started, but the bad news is law firms have a long way to go. It is great that the idea of “client service” is authentically being explored within law firms, but what many […]

In my work over the past year with individual associates and partners on client business development, I have noticed several common themes that are worth sharing: 1. In law practice client development, many lawyers are asking for a business development “template” to simply read and follow. To that, I repeat our mantra: “One size fits […]

I recently conducted an interview that reminded me of one of my favorite client feedback interview experiences and the importance of knowing your clients’ legal budgets. As part of the interview process, we always conduct a prep interview with the relationship lawyer and key individuals working with the client. We ask about the history of […]

When discussing client relationships and client service with law firm leaders, we are often asked a question I find surprising: When is the best time to go visit a client? Before delving into the answers to that question, we often set the stage with the lawyers (and the marketing and business development professionals) we are […]

I began my legal career like the majority of law school graduates—by joining a law firm as a fresh-faced associate. My primary job responsibilities were to represent the firm’s financial institution clients in litigation matters. I had no assigned business development duties other than to keep our clients happy with our legal services. After twelve […]

Early in my law firm marketing career, I held an in-house position at a Pacific Northwest law firm of approximately 150 lawyers. I was asked to speak at the firm retreat. I shaped my presentation around the basics: Focus on relationships, distinguish yourself through client service and always be responsive. As I opened the floor […]

As mentioned in a recent blog post, we at Wicker Park Group love to read and love to share favorites with each other and with clients. Amid the many excellent books that address the client experience, we picked one particularly standout book to share with clients this year: Zombie Loyalists by Peter Shankman. Zombie Loyalists […]

Unsurprisingly, no law firm has had the courage in recent weeks to say, “In light of the unjustified first-year associate salary increases, we are reducing first-year base compensation by $10,000 to better align our business with our clients’ ongoing economic reality and invest in our client relationships.” There is no value to your clients in […]

Last week, a friend of mine here in New Orleans asked me for a referral for a good internal medicine physician. Being a corporate lawyer by training and practice, I don’t know which internal medicine physicians have the best skills and experience. But I do know from personal experience which doctors sincerely care about my […]

The massive uptick in how corporate legal departments and law firms are collecting data to make smarter decisions in any number of areas may very well disrupt the legal industry. But Big Data is not a replacement for Little Data: the voice of the individual client. From IBM’s ROSS and Watson to Mitratech’s March acquisition […]

Bloomberg recently published an article on the exhaustion many consumers are feeling about the plethora of customer satisfaction surveys they face. The piece attributes the steady increase in quick surveys to a number of factors including a growing interest in utilizing customer feedback to improve services and the ease of reaching customers via email and […]

“When I select attorneys to handle a matter, I really look for a team. I want the leader to be familiar with the case and giving people direction. I don’t expect him to get in the nitty-gritty from day one, but you do really need a very smart guy to be in the details and […]

The single greatest truth in any client feedback effort is simple: If you are not prepared to act on the feedback, don’t ask for it. In every client feedback program—whether we are conducting the interviews ourselves or training the firm on how to conduct them—managing the clients’ expectations is critical to the program’s success. We […]

In my career, I have had the opportunity to be general counsel for a bank holding company, a large state medical center and a state bar association. Each entity was different in terms of its leadership and operating procedures. However, there were certain common principles that guided outside counsel selection. Keep these mandates in mind […]

In a recent client feedback interview, a deputy general counsel told a common story. He had all but forgotten the Thursday deadline for a filing in a litigation matter of medium importance. His regular outside litigation counsel had a conflict, and he was trying a new firm on the recommendation of a colleague. The firm […]

Not long after I made the move from law firm practice to general counsel at a Texas financial institution, I observed that the senior executives at our holding company (the key decisionmakers) all had internal people within the bank who served as “coaches.” These coaches were not the ultimate decisionmakers within the bank regarding projects […]

In some businesses, clients view their lawyers as impediments to making things happen. Those clients often work with outside counsel who throw up roadblocks and tell them why something won’t work instead of seeking a solution to the challenge. The roadblocks can be anything from regulatory hurdles to plain old risk aversion or analysis paralysis. […]

One of the most challenging jobs any general counsel encounters is guiding the company through litigation-related decisions. This process involves determining the company’s goals in the disputed matter, setting any budgeting constraints, choosing outside litigation counsel, assessing how much control and personal involvement in-house counsel and management want in the litigation, keeping company management informed […]

How much time do you typically spend each month seeking new clients? If you’re like many other firm lawyers, you are devoting great blocks of time to RFPs, speaking engagements, industry conferences, entertainment and much more in an effort to develop new client relationships. All of those activities are valuable and important, but you are […]

The year is still new, but the refrain remains the same. Lawyers in firms are finally back at work, catching up from the protracted holiday break and now excited about the promise the new year brings. Yet I’ve already had the conversation with a client about the “attitude” busy lawyers have when they are, well, […]

Towards the end of the year, our interview schedules slow down and we spend our days developing new content, cleaning up files and planning for the New Year. It is a great time to reflect and focus. A recent week of events made me realize the value of something we often take for granted: The […]

The bad news is that it may be too late to come up with a gift for your clients that will stand out from the crowd. But that is not the real goal of a gift; the goal of a gift is to create a memory. At the end of the year when you think […]

In my annual year-end scramble to obtain the required Continuing Legal Education credits, I attended a GC panel hosted by our local Legal Marketing Association. As the moderator asked the panel members questions about how they purchase legal services, the same response came up over and over: Relationships are the key. Early in the discussion […]

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