Secure Client Relationships Through Challenging Times
Two years ago the vice president of a major oil company commented that a firm's investment in a Strategic Client Interview meant "that this law firm is smart enough to say 'we want to stay in business for the next 30 years.'"
Times have changed in so little time. Corporate America is experiencing an historic downtown that is leaving the country reeling, facing what could be the worst recession in years.
In late September The New York Times reported on the closing of Heller Ehrman. In "Big Law Firm May Vote to Dissolve" Ward Bower of Altman Weil commented: "The business failure of firms has been becoming more common." While most firms will not likely fail, strategic planning is more focused on getting through the next five, not 30, years.
And if that's not enough, the Association of Corporate Counsel has undertaken its "ACC Value Challenge." The ACC believes that "many traditional law firm business models and many of the approaches to lawyer training and cost management are not aligned with what corporate clients want and need: value-driven, high-quality legal services that deliver solutions for a reasonable cost and develop lawyers as counselors (not just content- providers), advocates (not just process-doers) and professional partners."
How will the current downturn affect your various clients? Make a point of finding out from them directly and through research of their industries. This knowledge will enable your firm's attorneys to be the effective business counselors, advocates and partners that the ACC is looking for. Do your attorneys know how secure their client relationships are? In any economic climate client loyalty is a must. In this economy the marketplace will turn up the heat on competitiveness to bring in business, which in some cases could be your clients' business.
Do you really know what your clients think about your attorneys and your firm, and how it compares to the other law firms they use? Strategic Client Interviews are based on candor and openness. Clients frequently reveal information that they have never before told originating attorneys, despite their long-standing relationships.
Strategic Client Interviews have been vital to keeping clients away from the competition, and to gaining more business with them.