“I’m the last to know and have to drive this thing to close. I don’t get all the facts, and everyone is waiting for me. It’s ass backwards.” VP and GC, Large Telecom Company.
The attorney able to show this GC how to change the dynamics and drive the results they want will earn a client for life. And not just this one client.
22% of all GCs feel like they are behind the 8 ball. They want to be out in front of issues; helping to get things done, or even getting them done faster, but these top legal decision makers feel stymied by their own internal operations. These GCs say they are excluded from relevant communications from upper management and business unit leaders until the last minute. And then they’re playing catch up to deliver the results management expects. This is the biggest obstacle to getting what they want, and need, accomplished. These GCs tell us they can cope with being under appreciated; it’s being put in the position of bottleneck causing their personal frustration.
Law firms are in the unique position of being able to bring in an experienced partner, former GC, or a GC who is a friend of the firm, to help your client get out in front. Teaching these GCs how to anticipate issues, stay ahead, and add to the process creates lifelong friendships—and business.
This is only 1 of 5 obstacles GCs face in meeting their goals. The remaining 4 are:
Unlike their stymied colleagues, these corporate counsel have more demands than time. They triage, prioritize, and delegate where they can. Ultimately, these decision makers focus on the top or urgent issues. They are master jugglers and are skilled in keeping many balls in the air.
This is 1 reason clients get so frustrated when they have to chase down outside counsel for budgets, updates, or key pieces of information. It creates even less time.
You can immediately help. Set up scheduled days and times where you will provide updates on matters and work for clients. Outline progress against the original scope and proactively notify clients of any changes before the scheduled update.
Resources come down to people and budget—and there just aren’t enough to go around. Like time scarcity above, this means prioritization and finding tactics to extend the budget.
Law firms are well served offering up AFAs, alternative staffing, secondments, or an occasional extra hand to add to the resource base.
The growing complexity of litigation is stealing 10% of GCs psychic energy. Risk is growing to the point where it is all-consuming. Litigation attracts more and new litigation, and regulators. GCs have to stop and thoughtfully respond. The potential combined financial exposure from litigation is so large it has to be managed down—immediately.
Law firms who want to help their clients can offer strategic counsel and planning for these situations—both in the heat of battle and before with litigation prone clients.
A small but significant 4% of GCs say outside counsel is their biggest obstacle to getting things done. These GCs say their law firms are working towards cross objectives, don’t deal with uncertainty, and are being served by attorneys with no apparent leader. They make no progress and some law firms impede it.
Law firms holding their clients back probably don’t realize they are the obstacle—but these are the firms who do not ask for feedback and don’t provide timely updates. More formal and informal communication with clients is the number 1 way to ensure you are not your client’s biggest challenge.
Each client faces different obstacles. Your job is to understand which clients have what obstacles if you want to create a continuing stream of new business. You have many vehicles to ask clients about what holds them back, or BTI can ask for you. Your client’s obstacles are your opportunities. All you have to do is ask, and act.
(Based on more than 350 in-depth interviews with top legal decision makers conducted between September 2018 and January 2019 conducted by The BTI Consulting Group.)