The Strategic Lawyer Gets More Clients

BigbluecomJill Schachner Chanen, a Legal Affairs Writer for the ABA Journal, has written an excellent article called "The Strategic Lawyer" on page 43 of the July 2005 ABA Journal.  I mention it here because you may have overlooked the marketing angle. 
The article makes the same point I do to my law firm clients: corporations are placing a premium on advisers who understand their business and the company's big picture.
According to Chanen, clients are sick of "profit-minded, specialty-touting multinational megalaw firms.  Given the high salaries firms pay lawyers, clients can no longer hire advisers who have nothing to offer besides basic legal training." Instead, they want a strategic lawyer (or accountant, consultant or other adviser), who:
  • Knows how to approach a problem in light of the company's overall business strategy.
  • Helps the client accomplish its business goals.
  • Is one part cosigliere, one part Sun-Tzu warrior and one part Yoda.
  • Shows clients how the law helps them gain a competitive position.
  • Are business-centric, not law-centric.
  • May say "no" to a client, but will have another suggestion to meet the business objective.
  • Understands the client's business, how it operates, how it makes money, who its competitors are, what its key relationships are and what its goals for growth are.
  • Understands how much risk the business accepts.
  • Won't suggest filing suit if it would jeopardize an important business relationship.
  • Advises clients how to set up new systems for oversight so that it can prevent litigation in the first place.
  • Thinks how a matter fits into the larger policy perspective of a client, starts forging consensus and develops a team around a problem.

These strategic lawyers are known as "rainmakers."

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