Law Firm Client Service

While being interviewed for a podcast yesterday morning, the host asked me what I saw as the primary trend for the future of law firms. Although my answer is simple, the work behind it is not – collaboration.

We’ve talked about Heidi Gardner’s book, Smart Collaboration, before (and I again highly recommend reading it). One of the things Gardner addresses in the book is the barriers to collaboration. I’m sure many of these will be familiar to you, and that she’s so adept at identifying them should give you comfort that she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to why collaboration is so essential and useful to law firms and lawyers. Let’s examine a few of these, and how you may overcome them within your own firms or law firm networks to achieve better collaborative results.
Continue Reading Overcoming the Barriers to Collaboration

These days, it seems that everyone is looking for a quick fix to everything. How do I get clients fast? How can I do business development without being directly involved myself? How can I skip ahead to the final steps?

Unfortunately, as with anything worthwhile, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

If you want to have successful client relationships, and professional relationships in general, it’s necessary to start with the basics. The good news is that there are two easy fixes you can implement today that will improve your image, raise the caliber of your relationships, and aid in your business development efforts. I know that sounds too good to be true, and as if I’m some sort of snake oil salesman, but I promise, it’s true. 
Continue Reading Great Relationships Start with the Basics

In our discussions over the last few years about the future of the law firm, the one thing that has become abundantly clear is that for lawyers and firms to be successful, they will have to learn to collaborate effectively and efficiently. In her book, Heidi Gardner calls this “Smart Collaboration.” I had the chance to see Gardner present at the CLOC conference in February, and recently finished her book, and I can’t recommend it enough – for anyone in professional services looking to be successful over the next ten years, this is a must-read.

Gardner looks at collaboration from a few distinct viewpoints, and makes the case for it in a variety of ways. The one that strikes me initially is her final chapter, in which she discusses collaboration from the point of view of the client. Clients are deeply committed to the idea of collaboration, but obviously, they want to make sure that they’re paying for good value. Not surprisingly, collaboration is good for both the firm and the client. I’m not going to go into the reasons why your firm should be investing in the idea of smart collaboration (think better success in the war for talent/clients; doing higher value work more efficiently and effectively; being a differentiator, etc.) but instead, I want to look at the reasons why collaboration adds value for your clients, and specifically, how members of a law firm network can use their membership to effectively communicate this value and enhance their collaborative skills. 
Continue Reading The Case for Collaboration in Law Firm Networks: the Value Proposition for your Clients

Lawyers know better than most people that words matter – after all, who knows better than a contract lawyer that a nuanced clause can make or break a deal?

But who knows better than your marketing team that “marketing” is a four-letter word?

It shouldn’t be – and I’ll explain why in a moment.

But how many of you (raise your hands) think of marketing as something that some group in your office does once in a while?

How many of you think of marketing as brochures and advertisements?

How many of you think marketers are just people who ask you for money and then put pretty logos together or make sure you have enough business cards?

Okay, put your  hands down. I’ve got news for you – marketing is everything you do.
Continue Reading Lawyers: What Makes You Worth Talking About?

Last week, we talked about channeling your inner Taylor Swift to connect with your clients – it seems silly, but no one understands her client base and instill rabid loyalty better than Taylor, and isn’t that all something we’d love to emulate with our own clients?

We may not have her reputation (see what I did there?), but that doesn’t mean we can’t practice some of her tactics in our own relationship development efforts with similar success. One of the things she’s got down pat is knowing when to engage directly. 
Continue Reading You Can’t Delegate Relationship Development – Lessons From Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is my favorite client relationship genius.

That may seem a bit strange, but when you drill down into the brilliant marketing and business development machine that she is, you’ll agree that there are a few things that Taylor does that create rabid loyalty among her fans – and I mean rabid.

Before you start asking what Tay-tay and her music have to do with the law, first, ask yourself what it would feel like to have your clients feel the same way about you as Taylor’s fans feel about her? What if your clients trusted you so implicitly that they never took their business to anyone else? What if they called you first before making a business decision, because you’re their trusted adviser? What if your clients lined up every time you wrote or spoke, because they knew what you had to say was that valuable?
Continue Reading Channel Your Inner Taylor Swift & Connect to Your Clients

A few years ago, I wrote a post centered around the idea of needing a strong audience in order to make the content that you’re writing valuable. While content development is a piece of the overall puzzle, this idea is easily expanded, especially in today’s market. Something that I’ve heard a LOT from lawyers is that to be successful, you simply need to be a good lawyer. So that’s the question that we’re looking at today – if you build a good practice, will clients just show up?

The short answer is no. And in your hearts, you know that.

It’s simply not enough to be a good lawyer these days. You could be the BEST lawyer there is – the most technically gifted, the best educated, even the most experienced. But if no one knows who you are, does it even matter? 
Continue Reading If You Build it (a Good Practice), Will They Come?

Regular Zen readers will know that I’m a runner. When you first start running, you tell yourself that it’s the cheapest sport – all you need is a pair of sneakers, and you can head outside and do it. While this is (essentially) true, we runners love our gadgets and our products, and sharing our favorites of the same.

It won’t surprise you to learn that I’m in a couple of Facebook groups dedicated to running, including a pretty large one, and we often share products we love. A popular one among the group is the sunglasses brand, Goodr, who have been known as a fun, edgy brand with glasses that stay put on your face during long, sweaty runs, have a basset hound mascot, and catchy names for their sunnies. I own three pairs myself. 
Continue Reading Good( r ) Leadership Means Having to Say You’re Sorry

We’ve discussed the idea of change extensively here on Zen, and although it’s a long time coming in the legal industry, there are pockets of exciting innovation. One such pocket is the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium, or CLOC, which has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years (as in 40 members to 1800 members in 3 years). One of CLOC’s core tenets is bringing together the ENTIRE legal ecosystem in order to achieve real, systemic change, and that’s a tenet I can really get behind.

Last week, I had the pleasure to join their CIO/Cybersecurity Initiative task force, and it got me thinking about what’s really necessary for collaboration in the legal ecosystem (and other professional services industries, for that matter). I’d like to share with you my three tips that I saw in action during this CLOC meeting that you can implement today in your firms as you seek to ride the wave of change. 
Continue Reading Lawyers: Collaboration Drives Your Success. Here’s How to Do it

This post was originally published in Legal Business World on November 5, 2018

It’s no secret that the legal market is a challenging place to be today.

Mergers, non-law firm players, clients continuing to take work in-house, increasing investment in technology, changing demands from different generations…the list goes on.

With a staggering number of reasons in front of us for why change is imperative, what’s holding lawyers back? And what steps can we take to face these challenges head on? 
Continue Reading Breaking Down the Barriers to Change