For our third installment of our General Counsel Corner, we’ve brought in an In-house Counsel at a leading independent fiduciary services business. 

Our question to him was: 

What is your preference for how a lawyer tries to learn more about you and your business?"

He told us, "Good question. I’d say it’s like any client relationship – get to know me, ask the right questions without being obtrusive or cross-examining me, and certainly without presuming to know my needs.

"In trust, I’m not sure lawyers I come across spend enough time on this – they tend to focus on the transaction or the problem in hand – they get to know that really well, but do they get to know me and my business – not so much!

"There was one firm (actually 2 lawyers in that firm acting on their own initiative) that really did work on building that relationship with me and my colleagues last year. And there is no doubt that they grew the financial value of their relationship with us more or less directly as a result. This personal touch, combined with the more traditional seminar/newsletter approach that you get with other firms made the difference.

"I’m like anyone else in business – I tend to instruct firms – and individuals within firms – that I like. If there isn’t much to choose from in terms of service/competence – and in my line of business, that is often the case – then the ones who I’ve got to know, and who I feel understand me and relate to me and my colleagues are always going to have an edge."

Wow, is there ever some great information for outside counsel in this answer: 

  • Most firms are focused on the issue at hand, and not getting to know their client & their client’s business – so there’s a real opportunity to differentiate yourself here. 
  • Focusing on building the relationship can lead directly to growing the financial return of the relationship for the outside lawyers. 
  • Don’t assume that you know what their needs are already – ask. 
  • Inside counsel do business with those they know, like and trust. 

Take a look at your client relationships today – are you doing as much as you can to get to know them and their business? 

A huge thanks to this month’s GC!