For this month’s installment of our General Counsel Corner, we are pleased to welcome Assistant General Counsel and Assistant Director of Internal Operations for Jacam Chemical Company, Jayson Macyda.
Mr. Macyda is not only a lawyer for Jacam, but also a general business manager. Because of his dual function, he is keenly aware of how legal decisions impact business operations, and vice versa. Jacam Chemical Company is a division of Canadian Energy Services, and provides chemical solutions to the oil and gas industry worldwide.
In his role with them, Mr. Macyda assists in managing their North American and overseas legal operations, focusing on transactions and litigation matters regarding a number of different areas of law. He is also responsible for the general business management overseeing the operations of Jacam’s IT, HR, safety & Department of Transportation, health & environment, and public relations and marketing divisions.
This expertise, along with his diverse educational and employment background, means he has interacted with hundreds, if not thousands, of lawyers – so Mr. Macyda can quickly identify those who will be able to assist him in managing Jacam’s legal and business affairs.
That experience makes him perfectly placed to answer the question that is the focus for this GCC. We asked Mr. Macyda:
What is your preference for how a lawyer tries to learn more about you and your business?"
His response falls right in line with what we’ve heard clients say over and over again:
Too many lawyers initially focus on selling their skills and the big name clients that they serve to try to strike up a conversation to learn about me and Jacam’s business. The best thing a lawyer can do is to first demonstrate his/her ability to function as a legal "partner." I need to obtain a flavor of the lawyer’s personality, how the lawyer envisions, in a generic sense, his/her role in interacting with an in-house legal department, and with a business management team of a global manufacturing company."
If I am convinced up front that the lawyer may make a good fit as a partner, then the conversation will naturally lead to Jacam’s business operations, my background, and the company’s need for external legal support. At this point, I am now ready to hear about the lawyer’s skills and background to determine if a business connection can be made."
What takeaways do we get from Mr. Macyda’s comments?
- Listen first: You may be an excellent lawyer. You may be talented, and have great skill in your area of practice. But you need to make sure you are the right fit with each client, and they need to know that you care about THEM. To do that, listen first – as Mr. Macyda indicates, there will always be time later to show how your expertise can fit in with their business. But trying to get your foot in the door by leading off with why you’re such a good lawyer will do you more harm than good.
- Be a partner: We’ve heard this more and more in the last few years – clients are looking for a business partner (emphasis on the "business"). During the LMA’s GC panel, we even heard one client comment that she sees her outside counsel as a business arm of her company. So act as though you are an extension of that client’s business – what would you need to know about them? How would you go about finding out how they operate, what risks and challenges they face, etc? Don’t be their lawyer; be their partner.
- It’s not all about you: Business development and client service is not at all about you, the outside counsel. It’s about the client. What do they need? What makes them comfortable? How does their business operate? How do they prefer you interact with them? This is different for each and every client (one size fits one, never one size fits all). While you are the expert, and often the solution to the challenges that your client faces, your role is to be of legal service to that client. Mr. Macyda response indicates right in the first sentence that this is a problem he faces regularly with outside counsel – make yourself different by being entirely focused on the client.
Thanks again to Mr. Macyda for his thoughtful and detailed response!