Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute

Every month, a typical General Counsel speaks with 22 partners—each from a different firm. While partners are discussing legal and case-specific issues, they are also looking for more work. GCs report 75% of these active matter discussions includes the partner doing one of the following:

  • Asking for work in another practice area because of a job well done in one
  • Offering to make introductions to partners in other practices in order to provide more services
  • Inquiring about new, upcoming matters

GCs don’t want substantive case discussions littered with sales pitches. These business development strategies are more distracting and dilutive than productive. Keep case discussions and the overt sales pitches separate (in contrast to developing business through superior client service and anticipating needs).

When discussing new business opportunities, break through the clutter by keeping your focus on the client’s needs—not your ability to provide resources.

  • Identify specific situations presenting risk or a potential problem—make sure to offer up an immediate solution
  • Offer an unsolicited proposal to perform new work; identify specific issues, approaches, and benefits
  • Carve out standalone times to discuss business and strategy issues with your client

− On the fly suggestions during other conversations at best show a lack of focus and at worst demonstrate that casework is an afterthought to developing more business

  • Engage in regular and systematic conversations about non-case related issues

− Provide your client with an agenda when making the request to show this is not a veiled sales call
− Reach out once a quarter—once a month for a very large client

  • Keep meeting with your client on a regular basis about their issues and business no matter how much the billings ebb and flow

The best rainmakers live by these tactics. 

Think clients don’t have time for these meetings?

“I will find time to meet with my primary law firms or a law firm I think will really offer something valuable,” states the GC of a Fortune 10 company.

Your challenge is to prove you are worth it.

(Caution: Expect to need a few tries to get your first meeting. GCs may not take your first invitation just to see if you have perseverance or are taking a flyer.)  

MBR/JPD