To win more business, lawyers should seek to transcend their roles as purely practitioners of law – to also achieve strategic advisor status among clients and potential clients.
Clients seek lawyers that add to their corporate growth
As Mike O’Horo details precisely: “How many of your clients think of you as being essential to their growth and profits? How many of them see you as a cost to be carefully managed? The difference is huge. If clients view you as contributing to growth, they can’t get enough of you. If they view you as a cost — they’ll squeeze your fees and switch to a competitor. If you want to consistently develop deeper, more enduring relationships with your clients, you must shift from the narrow “expert” mindset — where you’re focused inward on your expertise, products, and methodologies — to the broader “advisor mindset” where you’re focused outward on the client and their highest-level goals and issues.”
Tailored messages to potential clients help lawyers distinguish themselves
And an article by Jennifer Smith in the Wall Street Journal Law Blog outlines advice for law firms from Gregory B. Jordan, former global managing partner of Reed Smith LLP and now general counsel of PNC Financial Services Group Inc – on how best to go about attracting the attention of the General Counsel. Here are some excerpts from Mr. Jordan’s advice:
- “Quick, timely updates on regulatory shifts…are useful…Reams of glossy marketing material, not so much.”
- “Accounting firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers are “eating law firms’ lunch” when it comes to briefing clients on upcoming challenges—including regulatory and legal shifts. “They have armies of brilliant people who are focused on the business in the way that law firms, even the best ones, just aren’t,’”
- ‘Specific expertise is crucial. Don’t bury clients in a blizzard of press releases about one-off hires in various offices—instead, explain why your lawyers are best-suited to handle a particular matter or issue.”
- “Bone up on your client’s industry, and make sure your partners do too, so you can advise them on what hurdles are lurking around the corner. If you can tell a chief executive how spending $500,000 now will save them from making a $2 million mistake later, ‘that’s value,’”
- “Watch out for the Wall Street law firms, which in recent years have ‘really raised their game.’ Instead of just kicking back and counting their millions, elite firms are increasingly offering valuable expert insight—’for no charge’—and also putting in shoe leather work.”
- “Anticipate needs [clients] may not know they have yet.”
Identify client’s issues and solutions as a means to achieve strategic advisor status
And Samantha Lenton, writing in Thomson Reuters Insight, explains how “demonstrating a lack of knowledge about a prospect tells them that you don’t really know their business and are therefore unlikely to do a good job for them…Tailoring sales pitches to appeal to potential clients’ commercial objectives [is essential]…By proactively identifying potential problems, along with solutions, [you] can prove indispensable to organisations that may not otherwise have thought to brief a law firm.”
Putting it into practice
The characteristics I’ve detailed above are just some of the advice you might find if you are looking for best advice about how to distinguish your law practice among clients. If integrated into your approach to potential and existing clients, they will quickly distinguish you and your practice as an essential go-to resource for those clients. It’s important when creating these messages to consider carefully who you are approaching and how best to tailor the message to them specifically. Seek to develop a precision about these messages that most effectively provides the best strategic information at the right time.
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