I was recently asked what is the biggest change in client development. No doubt the biggest change is the internet.
But, clients have also changed. They are no longer local and they are no longer loyal to one firm. In 2013, many clients expect to pay less and get more.
There are many ways the internet has changed client development. Obviously clients and potential clients can find a vast amount of information about a law firm, its lawyers and a legal issue that they either could not find before, or would be more challenged to find.
For me, one of the biggest changes brought on by the internet was the time I saved doing research on a legal topic or event I wanted to write about for clients and potential clients. Let me give you one example.
As you see above, on September 5, 1982 I made a presentation to the American Society of Civil Engineers on “The Legal Implications of the Hyatt Disaster. I actually gave this presentation to every construction association in Roanoke. I wish I kept the time I spent doing the research to make this presentation.
Unless you practiced law before the internet, it is hard to imagine what it was like. I spent hours and hours in a college library reading everything from articles in news magazines to highly technical analyses of what went wrong. Just think about the time spent figuring out where the information would be found. Once I had that information, I went to the law library to research potential liabilities for the architect, the structural engineer, the construction contractor, the hotel and others. Think again what it was like doing the legal research the old fashioned way. I know I went to both libraries several times and spent several hours each time.
When I drafted this blog, I spent about 20 seconds finding:
- Hyatt Regency walkway collapse
- ENGINEERING PROCESS FAILURE—HYATT WALKWAY COLLAPSE
- Hyatt Regency Walkway Collapse
It took me far longer to copy and paste the titles and the active links than it did to find and skim the articles. If you are a young lawyer who never had to spend hours in a college or law library doing research, think about how much time you have saved. In 2013, there is no excuse for not staying on top of what is happening in your client’s world and finding materials that will enable you to make a presentation on the subject like I did 31 years ago.