Measuring Your In-House Counsel’s Value

Author: Megan Braverman | March 7, 2014

The annual Marketing Partner Forum, held in Naples, Florida, brought together managing partner, marketing partners and senior business development professionals to examine how attorneys and law firms can stay relevant in a very crowded marketplace by providing greater value to clients.

A recap of six of the sessions follows along with the key takeaways. I’d welcome feedback or further discussion.

Value is all we care about anyway, right?

Another panel, Driving Value, looked at what clients are doing in-house and what they expect from their outside counsel. More companies are turning to their in-house counsel for the vast majority of their legal needs. The Driving Value panel took a closer look at why and how law firms can deal with this change.

One of the biggest factors in any client’s legal department is cost. In today’s world, in-house legal departments are not limited to outside law firms for legal support, and there are other potentially cost-effective legal solutions. The structure of lawyer teams in general can make reducing costs a particular challenge.

Working with in-house counsel more effectively

The speakers suggested that law firms consider sharing their metrics with in-house counsel in order to demonstrate how attorneys hold themselves accountable. Some possible metrics could include budget vs. expected expense, staffing, rotation of lawyers on work, diversity, race, position, etc. Attorneys also need to understand how in-house counsels’ clients measure certain factors, and what factors, such as efficiency, are most important to them. Early performance reviews are another valuable tool in helping law firms satisfy the needs of in-house counsel clients.

Below are some dos and don’ts for law firms looking to garner more in-house counsel clientele:

Do…

  • Understand the basics of the in-house counsel’s day-to-day duties and responsibilities. Spend the day with them on your dime so you can fully grasp the situation from their perspective.
  • Be up-front about costs, and deliver bills on time. This helps alleviate cost-based anxieties and makes the entire process smoother.
  • Your homework. Who are the right people from both sides? What should they be meeting about?

Don’t…

  • DON’T send them an email on a filed lawsuit.
  • DON’T agree to meet with a group of lawyers; focus on one-on-one targeted meetings instead of faceless group gatherings.

Target your presentation to your audience

Above all else, attorneys should understand who the decision-makers are at a particular corporate entity as well as how to effectively engage them, instead of developing a blanket pitch or presentation for all potential clients. Attorneys looking to engage corporate counsel clients should also remember to have patience and follow up as many times as it takes to get a response. Demonstrate worth, target your presentation to your audience, and don’t give up!

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