What Do General Counsel Need?
Positioning your firm as a desirable option for in-house counsel is a craft in its own right. Further, actually wrangling new business is a major milestone which can take several years. With nearly 70% of the legal work being moved in-house and paralegals handling the work at the level of a fourth-year associate, catching the attention of GCs is more challenging than ever. At the Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Conference, an esteemed panel of US General Counsel from GE Healthcare, MassMutual Financial Group and US Steel discussed how to strategically align your firm with the evolving high-priority needs of GC.
Below are a few takeaways for how to land your firm on their short list:
–Be responsive and timely: It’s a given, but it must be said. If a GC has a crisis, you need to move quickly. GCs expect their outside counsel to be available 24/7. If lawyers can’t make that commitment, don’t expect the retainer work.
–Stay on their radar! In a merger or acquisition, be prepared to follow a GC to a new workplace. Panel members reported feeling baffled when a law firm they had worked with made no attempt to contact them after a move to a different company. More times than not, that GC will pop up at a new company and have a future need for your services.
–Keep it short and sweet: Getting your material in front of GCs is increasingly challenging, whether it’s an e-blast, brochure or other marketing material. Understand that you have their attention for only a split second (or not at all). Get your message across quickly and concisely.
–Understand their business: A 360 view of the company will help you position your firm in multiple areas of work. Follow the CEO – whether in media mentions or elsewhere – to understand what they perceive as their biggest challenges. Then address those challenges when pitching your services.
–Look for opportunities to promote them: Writing an article? Invite the GC to co-author with you. This not only develops the relationship, but it highlights your value to them and their company. Furthermore, let them know of any awards/recognitions that they might be able to nominate their legal team for. Having your finger on these types of things will make you shine while helping your client shine!
–Accept that not all the work is glamorous: While you may not land that high-profile litigation suit, GCs look to outside counsel for specialized/unusual areas that they can’t handle alone. Knowing they have a partner who can handle these types of matters helps them sleep at night. After all, isn’t that all anyone wants in life?
With the above in mind, your firm can gain a competitive edge in securing work from in-house counsel by demonstrating your understanding of their demanding and ever-changing needs.