During the LMA’s opening session on Wednesday, we were treated to a great client panel on achieving greater collaboration – what you need to know to get a win-win relationship with your clients. On the panel were Stephen Kaplan, the Senior Vice President & General Counsel for Connextions, Inc., Jeff Novak, the General Counsel for AOL Paid Services, and John Lewis Jr., the Senior Managing Counsel-Litigation for The Coca-Cola Company,
They gave us a lot of incredibly valuable feedback, which I’d like to share with you. To qualify – at the end of the session, they did say that this wasn’t to be taken as the "rules" for dealing with all general counsel. The idea is for this to open a dialogue with your clients and get you thinking about how you can better service them.
Main Points from the GC’s
- Don’t treat all clients the same – that’s like being a therapist and treating all of your patients the same.
- The GCs were amazed by how infrequently firms will come to them and ask how they are measured internally and what success looks like for them – doing this can differentiate you.
- It’s your job as lawyers to make your clients look good.
- Find un-met needs for your clients – this is a different value proposition than that offered by your competitors
- Realization rates can go up when you can help the in-house counsel meet their legal spending budget.
- Client service should be very personal, tailored to the individual just as much as the institution.
- Firms that know the secret to cost containment in their own firms should be able to help General Counsel apply those principles in their department.
- When a client comes to your firm and you can divine that they’re in need, that’s an opportunity for the firm to embed a partnership.
- Meeting their needs transcends the vendor relationship and makes you a partner.
- Learn how to self-select – you can’t be all things to all people. It’s difficult to discern any self-selection from the pitches that they get. One of them recently got a pitch from a company that was obviously conflicted and should have self-selected.
- There is lots of buzz around AFA’s – but not everyone is positioned to do this. A value relationship is one where you have value to deliver.