Lawyers I coach frequently ask me what clients want in tough economic times. It is a great question. I sometimes respond: “in the current economy clients want better results and service and they want to pay less for it.” There is some truth in my response given that companies are trying desperately to reduce their outside legal costs.

Clearly clients want the results they expect you to get, but that is the minimum of what they expect. One lawyer I coach shared with me that one of his clients wanted templates of legal documents so they could do some of the work in-house themselves.

Another lawyer I coach mentioned that clients want us to focus on:

  1. Helping them save money on their outside legal cost.
  2. Accountability-meaning they want us to meet or exceed any commitments we make and want no surprises from us. This means we must timely advise them of any changes when they occur.
  3. Results.

I have been thinking about what clients want for a long time. To the list above, I would add that inside counsel want us to listen more effectively, want us to see things they do not have time to see and want us to help them do their job and look good in front of their management.

They also want us to help make their job easier. During a coaching session, a lawyer I coached asked what he could do to make his in-house lawyer’s job less stressful. After listening, I suggested that he create an extranet site for his largest client’s assistant general counsel. The site enabled his client contact to keep up with what was going on in each of the matters he was handling for her company on a 24/7 basis.

What do your clients and client representatives really want? If you don’t know you might simply ask: What can I do to help make your job less stressful?