Ballard Spahr hires a full-time client interviewer

Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll has hired veteran journalist Debra Nussbaum to be a full-time client interviewer.

She has more than 30 years of newspaper reporting experience, beginning her career at The Minneapolis Star, then writing about real estate for The Philadelphia Inquirer and about schools for The New York Times.

She started in the firm's Philadelphia office six weeks ago and is just now starting to meet with clients in what firm Chairman Arthur Makadon calls candid interviews in which the clients can talk about what type of service they are getting, any problems that have arisen and what needs to be done better.  Kudos to for breaking the news.

Ballard Spahr, with more than 500 lawyers and eleven offices, had an outside company handle client relations work and found the information gathered to be invaluable, he said. "Too often we were just not aware of what our clients were thinking," he told "That can lead, over time, to an erosion of the client relationship."

While Nussbaum, who is not a lawyer, may be accompanied to some of the meetings by lawyers in the firm, Makadon said it would never be with any lawyers who work with the client being interviewed.  He said the firm is just interested in hearing how the client perceives the relationship, whether the firm agrees or not. He said it is important that the firm not try to defend itself in these meetings but just listen to the feedback.

Ballard Spahr will initially focus on the firm's 300 or so top clients for the first round of interviews. Makadon said they are the clients in which multiple firm lawyers are involved in several different practice areas so that the firm gets feedback from several different people within the client organization.  

From an industry perspective, this is great news for the marketing profession. Client interviewers are a perfect extension of the marketing function, not a replacement.  Gathering data about clients is what marketing is supposed to be all about.

The issue will be whether the lawyers take the client feedback seriously and respond to client wishes.  Nothing is worse than asking a client's opinion and then ignoring it.

Best of luck, Debra!

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Business Development - April 3, 2008 2:20 PM
Larry Bodine's blog and reported today that Ballard Spahr has done something that I think is just plain brilliant. They have brought on board a person whose full-time job is to simply interview clients, and report her findings to
Legal Marketing Blog - April 8, 2008 12:02 PM
"client feedback" "client interviews" "business development" "client retention" "legal marketing"
ALMResearchBlog - April 14, 2008 6:06 AM
Ballard Spahr has hired a veteran journalist, Debra Nussbaum, to be a full-time client interviewer, according to a recent report on the Law Marketing Blog. Nussbaum has more than 30 years of newspaper reporting experience, beginning her career at The
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