Krescent's Client Acquisition and Retention Strategies: What General Counsel Look for in Outside Counsel: Tip 1
Many African law firms serve as local counsel to international firms, providing expertise on local law matters in their jurisdictions. To assist these law firms with their client acquisition and retention strategies, we asked the general counsels at two fortune 500 companies several questions surrounding what they looked for in outside counsel. This week, we will provide the answer to the following question: "What are some things that once hired outside counsel can do to make general counsel particularly happy?"
When asked this question, our first general counsel responded: “Clear communication. If I ask a question over email, I expect a response over email that addresses my question. I'm generally clear about whether I'm asking for strategic or specific advice. It's important that responses address my stated question. That may seem obvious, it isn't so obvious to everyone. I've gotten strategic responses to specific questions. If outside counsel can anticipate issues or offer to advise on related items.”
The second one stated: “Proactivity is key. If the firm is doing more than simply responding to questions or issues that I raise and instead is attempting to issue spot and come up with creative solutions, the firm is making me extremely happy.”
Three elements are central to these general counsel responses:
1. The first is listening. Attorneys must listen to what the client is specifically asking for and provide that to them. Although your off-topic advice might seem, or even be, valuable, if you give your client something other than what they've asked for, they are unlikely to be satisfied. Listen first, understand the request and respond to that. If there is room for elucidation on a particular point or points you can do so following your having provided the initial requested response.
2. The second is anticipating. Beyond responding to a client's specific request, attorneys need also anticipate ancillary and related matters that might impact the client or the client's business. This is not only a benefit to the client from a strategic perspective, but it also affords you the opportunity the showcase your own capabilities and breadth of expertise.
3. The third is understanding. In order to effectively and fully serve your clients, you must have a thorough understanding of the matter (i.e. the deal, transaction, litigation, etc.), client specific issues and the law that supports the client's and opposing parties' positions. Understanding is also an essential component to anticipating and will help ensure your clients' ultimate satisfaction.
In our next publication, we will share insights on what outside counsel can do to make general counsels unhappy.
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