“Your objective should not be to just get a corporate client but keep that client,” said Marvin Genzer, executive director of the Research Triangle Area Chapter Association of Corporate Counsel speaking at the Raleigh Legal Marketing Association’s DIY workshop in July. The Legal Marketing workshop at the NC Bar Center was attended by roughly 30 Triangle area attorneys.
Genzer, who spent his legal career as an in-house lawyer, offered the following marketing advice to the private practice attorneys on “How to Get (AND KEEP) Your Corporate Clients”
No. 1: Learn the Business. Do background checks, read industry reports from public sources and government sources
No. 2: Learn the Organization Chart. Know who is on the board of directors and the make-up of the board. Understand the organizational chart and the management structure. Learn about the people in the potential client’s law department.
No. 3: Give Business Advice. Corporate clients usually expect and appreciate getting business advice from their attorneys. “The typical mantra is that lawyers don’t give business advice. If you’re advising a business client, there’s a good chance you are going to be asked to do it, particularly if you’re acting in this capacity of a small company that is using you as a substitute for an inside lawyer because inside lawyers give business advice all the time.”
No. 4: Learn to Communicate. Write and speak clearly. Avoid legalese unless you are talking to the legal department. Don’t tweet, text or use other social media to communicate unless you and the client have agreed to use social media.
No. 5: Don’t Say “No.” No matter how hair-brained the client’s idea or how illegal it is, don’t say “no”. Take the approach of, ‘Let’s try to accomplish your goals while minimizing your risk.’
No. 6: Avoid the $10 Solution to the $5 Problem. Giving the client a $10 solution to a $5 problem is a major source of irritation for clients.
No. 7: No Surprises. Update your client frequently. Monitor their project. Report any potential changes to the client promptly. Stick to the agreed upon billing. Get the client’s approval when making any changes in the personnel at your firm assigned to their project
No. 8: Don’t Go Over Your Client’s Head. Observe where your client representative fits within the organization. Don’t relay on your other personal connections at the company. Discuss any need for “referral up” prior to taking any action.
No. 9: Negotiate Representation. Agree on the fee arrangement, the estimated time required and cost, scope of representation, progress reports and communications systems.
No. 10: Return Communication. Use an agreed upon systems, such as phone, text, e-mail or written and communicate in a timely manner.
No. 11: Don’t “Over-Lawyer.” Negotiate the scope of the project. Apply reasonable judgement to the project. Resist the temptation to view and analyze every case.
No. 12: Plan the Work and Work the Plan. Estimate the job. Update forecasts. Provide progress reports and make sure there are “no surprises.”