Law Firm Client Service

As we edge towards the end of the third quarter of 2020 and a great deal of uncertainty still remains, the one conversation I’m having over and over again with lawyers is around how to keep current clients happy and bring in new work with them. While we’ve already addressed the importance of business development activities here on Zen, we haven’t talked much about client retention, which is clearly also essential – we all know the adage that it’s cheaper to keep a current client than to do the work of bringing on a new one.

Some of us may be walking on eggshells at the moment, hoping that if we are just quiet enough, clients will be grateful that we’re here and keep using us as they have been without making any changes. But I think we can all recognize that that’s a false hope. We’re ALL under increased pressure to find ways to cut costs and show more value. Lawyers who are able to have an open and honest conversation with their clients about the ways in which they’re doing this will be the ones who continue to be valued business partners of their clients – now, and in the future as the market picks back up. So, how do we do this?
Continue Reading Client Retention: Tips for the Pandemic’s Secret Weapon

Four years ago, we joined with HighQ in looking at the question, “What do you believe lawyers and law firms need to do to prepare for the future of legal services?”

Considering how much has happened even in the past six months, and looking at the way the legal industry adapted to being fully remote in many countries in 1-2 weeks, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to look back at what some of the leading experts in the industry had to say in 2016, and put that into today’s context.

In reading what many of us thought in 2016, the overriding sense is less that firms have been preparing for change and more that COVID has forced firms to have to be innovative and creative because they have no other choice. The old adage that when something is painful enough, THEN we will make changes, is just as true for law firms as it is for each of us.

But is change a challenge…or an opportunity?
Continue Reading Law Firms: Change as a Challenge, or an Opportunity?

My title my be tongue-in-cheek, but my message this week is quite serious.

We’ll get to that in a moment. First, I want to consider for a moment what happens in a crisis. We panic a little bit, right? Even if we stay mostly calm, our world gets very small, and we’re often looking only at the three feet around us. It sometimes means that we’re looking only at what our firm, our office, or our team is doing, and not focusing on the larger picture. We’re also trying to do everything extremely quickly and efficiently, because the needs all feel so IMMEDIATE – clients need us RIGHT.NOW. And that’s not imaginary – they do. Orders have come down from state or national governments asking them to shutter their businesses within hours. They’ve had to move employees from in-office to remote immediately, sometimes with no plans in place. You may be assisting them in doing this often while having to make similar decisions for your own firms.
Continue Reading “I Don’t Want No Hubs” – a.k.a Show me the Value

We’re at a unique point in our histories right now – everything seems to be in an upheaval, and our nerves are frayed. Many of us are finally getting to a place that feels like a new normal, but there are still some things that are a challenge. One of the things I’ve seen to be true over the past few weeks is that a lot of people seem to be in a mad rush to make things happen. In many cases, that’s necessary – as things close, we have to make quick choices about how to work from home, how to help clients move entire businesses to remote working, how to suddenly adapt to working next to children and spouses and partners, how to identify the tricky legal issues that come with challenging economic times.

Whenever there is a rush like that, the idea of “care” can often become secondary. We get more terse in our replies in an effort to be more efficient and we forget that there are real, scared and anxious people at the other end of the phone or digital line, who are trying to manage as many plates and emotions as we are.
Continue Reading Client Care in the Time of Coronavirus

Our second quarter of the year begins tomorrow, and for many of us, we’re facing a new normal that didn’t seem possible three months ago. One of my lawyers emailed me last night and said “what a year this past week has been.” I don’t think truer words have ever been spoken.

Lawyers are all in different places at the moment – some firms are exceptionally busy, but may have clients who aren’t able to pay them at the moment. Others are making the difficult decision to lay off staff or cut salaries. Some are shuffling resources to accommodate the influx of questions to practice areas like employment and insolvency and bankruptcy. Everyone is unsure what the future brings.
Continue Reading Business Development in 2020? Let’s Take a Breath.

This fall, ILN members will have the good fortune to participate in a webinar with Pamela Cone, founder and CEO of Amity Advisory. Pam is speaking on the global movement behind corporate social responsibility and sustainability for law firms, and why firms should care, and in advance of that, I’ll be sharing some guest posts with you that may aid in your own efforts. Here is the third and final post in our series.

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How does your social impact program rate? Globally, firms are finding that prospects and clients, as well as employees and recruits expect them to take their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability programs to a new level. These stakeholders expect you to show that you have a holistic, strategic social impact plan with measurable results.
Continue Reading Corporate responsibility and social impact for law firms: Create a social impact program that measures up

This fall, ILN members will have the good fortune to participate in a webinar with Pamela Cone, founder and CEO of Amity Advisory. Pam is speaking on the global movement behind corporate social responsibility and sustainability for law firms, and why firms should care, and in advance of that, I’ll be sharing some guest posts with you that may aid in your own efforts. Here is the second in our series.

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You might be surprised to learn what your clients expect from you. A growing number of companies have signed on to the United Nations Global Compact—more than 12,000 in 165 countries. They’re committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and they expect vendors and suppliers to also commit toward a more just and sustainable world.  Yes, this includes law firms and other professional service providers.
Continue Reading Corporate responsibility and social impact for law firms: Growing Client Engagement and Expectations

This fall, ILN members will have the good fortune to participate in a webinar with Pamela Cone, founder and CEO of Amity Advisory. Pam is speaking on the global movement behind corporate social responsibility and sustainability for law firms, and why firms should care, and in advance of that, I’ll be sharing some guest posts with you that may aid in your own efforts.

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The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The Goals interconnect and in order to leave no one behind, it ís important that we achieve each Goal and target by 2030.”  (www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/)

The world is changing and so is the way we must do business.
Continue Reading Corporate Social Responsibility for Law Firms: Understanding the Global Movement

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