Cordell Parvin Blog Developing the Next Generation of Rainmakers

2016 Tips from My In-House Lawyer Friend

Posted in Client Development, Client Service

As many of you know, a law firm partner I coached went in-house in 2015 and shared with me ideas he wished he had thought of when he was with his law firm.

Last year I posted:

Client Development Tips: From Law Firm Lawyer Who is Now In-House

Client Development: More Tips from a Law Firm Lawyer Who is Now In-House and

Client Development: Even More Tips from a Law Firm Lawyer Who is Now In-House

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Well, my friend is back again with some new ideas for 2016. All three of the posts above and the one today are focused on improving client service.

I invite any of you who are interested to take a look at the four posts, pick out the top ideas from each and share with me how you might implement the ideas in 2016.

Cordell,

Here are some additional client relationship/client development tips:

If you get an RFP from me, look at value added (i.e. no or minimal cost to me) items you can bundle with your RFP response. This can help make your proposal stand out from the crowd. Plus, you may have thought of something that I haven’t thought of which makes real sense. When I am evaluating a proposal, I’m looking at total value to my company.

One way for me to get to know your firm better is to include me on your e-mail / webinar / seminar lists. I might not be able to attend your seminar, but someone in my organization likely will. This is true even if the seminar doesn’t directly impact the area I support.

Understand that in our view, there is no single law firm that can do all of our work. Law firms frequently do not see themselves in the way that in-house counsel see them. For example, if you see that we have been sued and you are tempted to send it to me in the hopes that you get the work, ask if you truly have expertise in the area. Do you have additional knowledge that would make your hiring make sense? Do you know the Plaintiff’s counsel? Do you have (or have you had) a similar case recently? Ultimately, I have to be prepared to defend my choice of counsel.

When I was outside counsel, I used to ask my clients, “What keeps you up at night?” While on the surface that seems like a reasonable question, it’s too easy to respond “nothing” or “not much.” For me, better questions to ask me are: “What kind of projects are you working on?” “Do you have anything you are working on that we could give you a quick – no charge – review?” “Do you have any recurring issues that we could help you brainstorm ?” “When was the last time you had your severance agreements reviewed?” Look for an opportunity to showcase your talents. You may have to do as unpaid, but I might be able to pay you for it.

One way to assist me – and help you in getting your name before others in my company – is to look where we operate. If we operate in Florida, think about whether you have a desk guide on operating in Florida. Do you have a 50-state guide – or multi-state guide – on a particular issue relevant to me or those who I support?

If you are going to have someone speak at a presentation at my company, make sure they are a good speaker. Nothing hurts you like having a poor speaker who reads their slides, seems nervous, or uncomfortable. Believe me, we talk later about what we saw – good and bad.

I especially appreciated the ideas suggested instead of asking what is keeping you up at night. I always felt that was a trite marketing question that came from a book on sales. My friends questions are far more effective.