|The Importance of Time in Forging a Bond With Your Client|
Meeting deadlines is crucial to a trusting lawyer-client relationship
By Bithika Anand
Successful lawyers are those who are trusted advisors for their clients, and not merely service providers. While the quality of deliveries impacts your retention as a service provider, in order to become a trusted aide to your client it is imperative to ensure that quality is delivered in a timely fashion, keeping in mind the client's schedule and priorities.
On time all the time
Timeliness extends beyond work deliveries. It includes being on time for meetings, ensuring your phone is available and not occupied when a call has been scheduled, sending timely updates on the status of the work, ensuring no emails go unanswered, and other actions that convince the client that he or she is at the top of your mind.
Follow strict timelines
It is important to remember that it is not only you and your office that plan timelines for assignments; your client too has his or her own timeline, of which your delivery date is a part. Any deviation results in not just a change in your schedule, but also that of your client. Lawyers must ensure that timelines are treated as sacrosanct by them and any other team member that is involved in the work. Any deviations or delays must be communicated to the client immediately to ensure minimal repercussions.
Push to achieve difficult deadlines
Nothing builds trust more than working against the clock for your clients to ensure that the deliverables reach them when it matters most. Lawyers should treat every assignment that has either a pressing statutory deadline or a high pressure timeline as an opportunity to earn the client's trust and confidence in their performance and commitment. It is when the client feels that his problems are also yours that you will move from being a service provider to being a trusted advisor.
Say "no" to unachievable timelines
However, at times you know that even if you work against the clock, it will not be possible to deliver in the stipulated timeline. In such cases, you must train yourself to say no to the work, even if it means a loss of revenue for you. The reasons may be due to the nature of the work or your own internal reasons. In either case, saying no to the client and proposing a revised achievable timeline tells the client that you are not out to grab any and all work that comes your way. By saying no to impossible deadlines, you show that meeting your client's expectations regarding the deliverable and timeline are more important to you than your immediate revenue stream; this builds trust, which in turn results in greater long-term rewards.
Contact the author, Bithika Anand
|Business Development and the Comfortable Chair|
When we sit in our chairs too much, we lose. When we get out of them (at least from time to time), we win.
By Gerry Riskin
You've worked long and hard to earn your comfortable chair. It is probably so well made that you can sit in it for the entire day. Clients probably like it. Maybe your staff does too.
But that chair is your enemy when it comes to the bottom line. It conspires to enfold you, thereby insulating you from both current and prospective clients. It has you thinking and planning and doing existing client work way too much - and generating business way too little.
I work with many firm leaders who want their partners to produce more revenue. The practice group, industry group and client group leaders want exactly the same thing from their constituents. Those leaders ask me, "How can we motivate behaviors that result in more business generation? What do highly effective leaders do to foster great results?"
There are answers to these questions, just as there are ways to coach golfers to make them incrementally better on a continuous basis. But those answers are about fine-tuning; what we are talking about here is getting out of the chair and into the game. There is no way golfers can improve their swings if they are sitting down.
When we sit in our chairs too much we "lose," and when we get out of them (for an appropriate portion of our time), we "win." Why? Think about how the lawyers for whom you are responsible would answer some of these questions if they were being honest (I have added typical honest responses in parentheses):
- How many hours did you spend drafting your business development plan? (So many that I'm embarrassed to tell you.)
- How many hours did you spend contemplating your strategic plan, in particular, with a view to maintaining or enhancing the respect of your peers? (Ditto.)
- How many prospective clients have you seen face-to-face outside the office in the last week? (None.)
- How many existing clients have you visited at their places of business in the last month? (None.)
- Do you have a list that you could show someone right now that contains the names of the most important contacts you have - people so important to you that you would not want to lose contact with them for more than just a few months? (No.) Supplementary question: How many of those people have you seen the last three months? (Unless I have an active file open, none.)
- How many of your clients have you introduced to another lawyer in the firm in the last month? (None.)
- How many of your partners have you visited to impart the nature of the favorite part of your practice - including your passion for that practice area, your sensitivity to anyone who might transfer work to you with the greatest emphasis on satisfying the referred client as well as the referring lawyer? (None.) (Note: I have written elsewhere about why lawyers are so reluctant to refer work, including the behaviors they have observed in the past that are likely to deter them from ever choosing to do so again.)
I am not suggesting that you ditch your chair in a fit of anxiety. In fact, enjoy its comfort when you ought to use it. But do get out of it from time to time. I make you a promise based on my experience: if you marginally increase the time you, and those you lead, spend out of your comfortable chairs -- devoting your attention to some of the activities implied by the questions above - the business you (and they) will generate will increase substantially. I know that this works.
The very best business generators in your firm will tell you that you will not realize the benefit of getting out of that chair immediately. There is clearly a lag effect. While some opportunities take a long time to bear fruit, and some never do, a significant proportion will - and the healthy proportion of those will happen within months, not years.
Contact the author, Gerry Riskin
|Put the "Principle of Forced Efficiency" to Work for You|
You will almost always complete a task within the time limit that you set for yourself.
By Jeff Morris
Why do we place so much emphasis on managing our time as lawyers? You've heard it many times before - time is money. As lawyers, it is all that we have to sell, a lawyer's "stock-in-trade" is his or her time - that's all there is!
Experts say that when you use sound time management tools that you could realize as much as a 25% increase in your daily productivity, or find two additional hours a day to bill. That is dramatic. Even if you are already doing a great job with time management, there is still a payoff with a small increase in productivity.
The truth is that you can only "make" time by taking it away from one activity and giving it to another. It's all about choosing the right priorities and avoiding time wasters. That's what "finding more time" means.
Winston Churchill headed his daily to-do list with the words, "Actions This Day". The first step in an effective time management system is to ask yourself this fundamental question: What must I do this day? This is the premise of a sound time management system for lawyers - only focus on what you "must do" during the workday. Once that is determined, the second step is to consider how long it will take to complete each task - by paying attention to the Principle of Forced Efficiency.
By estimating the time it will take you to complete a task, you engage the Principle of Forced Efficiency. You will almost always complete the task in the time goal that you give yourself to do so. Otherwise, "the time required to do a task will expand to fill the time available for its completion" - a maxim known as Parkinson's Law.
Setting a limited amount of time to do something means you will be forced to be efficient to get it done. Don't busy days feel more productive than slow days? Aren't you incredibly productive the day before you leave for a planned vacation? Of course, because we all know that we have only so many hours to squeeze in everything that must get done that day and we are judicious in the time we allot to completing each task.
But why not just use the venerable "to-do" list? This is an issue when the list is unstructured, outdated or exceedingly long.
The solution? Record all to-dos in one trusted system, but at the start of each day answer a simple question: What must I absolutely do today? Write down only those tasks in order of priority on a short list and estimate the time to complete each task. When you have completed those tasks, go home.
Contact the author, Jeff Morris
|Lateral Partner Recruitment Frustration|
Recruiting firms need to avoid the "hope is a strategy" mentality when onboarding lateral partners.
By Michael J. White, Esq.
The law of supply and demand is alive and well in the land grab for partners who bring with them books of business that will be accretive to a new employer. Firms can't declare victory at the recruitment stage - they are responsible for making "1+1=3" so that the new partner is in fact accretive. Lateral partner business development integration is a process that is often ignored, and on those occasions when it is not ignored, is usually executed poorly; both firm and new partner end up disappointed with each other.
Lateral Partner Recruitment Yield
There are manifold reasons sought-after partners don't make the leap over to law firms. At bottom, however, their calculus is generally informed by an assessment of whether the recruiting firm's platform will cause them to be more successful than their existing or some other firm platform. Effective business development "integration" can be achieved through a process that i) maps out explicitly where are the practice, function, and industry-level synergies relative to a particular lateral, ii) assesses which partners associated with the synergistic areas are capable of collaborating meaningfully with the lateral in this regard, and iii) injects accountability into the process for making the collaboration work around sound business development principles in which both sets of partners see value.
A recruiting firm has to avoid the "hope is a strategy" mentality when onboarding a lateral partner. Realizing synergies and discovering truly incremental business are products of intentional, process driven, and disciplined effort. Good lateral partners know this and quickly want to get past the "chemistry" determination so they can assess whether a firm can really help them be more successful. "Which partners at the firm are willing to be accountable for my success?" "Does the firm have a plan to help me make 1+1=3?" "Does the plan make sense?" "Am I an experiment or has the firm developed and used good processes with other laterals to cause them to outperform?" Lateral partners want to see evolved thinking, capability, and process in place to have confidence the firm can "make good" on the shared expectation for success they both embrace. Recruiting firms have to be able to transcend the noise in this regard in order to outrecruit other very good firms that are courting the same lateral partner talent. Law firms that come to these discussions armed with documented process, methods, and plans, as well as with comp plan incentives that give legacy partners good reason to take an interest in the business development integration effort, will win more of their share of these human capital pursuits.
Lateral Partner Client and Business Development Integration
Laterals face (at least) a couple of daunting challenges as soon as they start work at a new firm. First of all, their understanding of the firm often remains embryonic for a long period of time. Secondly, they don't know where to begin to solve challenge #1. "What is it I need to know about the firm in order to begin to identify collaborative opportunities that will generate real prospect opportunities for me and the firm?" "How do I map out a collaborative business development process and implement it recognizing that I can't easily hold the collaborating partner accountable for executing the process?" "How do I drive and sustain the process with these new collaborating personalities without becoming a distraction to them?" For example, a recruiting firm that has a market leading transactional estate planning practice may enjoy a differentiating capability - a capability that can be introduced into many target relationships in the right way by non-T&E lawyers; this could be a very effective way to grab a starter engagement with a new prospect. These collaborations will not happen passively unless an unusual firm culture is in place, and firms will need to be very intentional about causing this kind of "dot connecting" to occur in a meaningful way. So get to it law firms! Stop selling aspirations, good feelings, and vaporware to lateral recruits; start selling process, accountability, alignment, and planning discipline centered on business and prospect development integration!
Contact the author, Mike White
Legal League Consulting, LLC
Dehli and Mumbai,
|At The Podium: Upcoming Appearances by Edge Partners |
Jordan Furlong Feb. 06
National Association of Bar Executives (NABE) Mid-Year Meeting
Doug Richardson Feb. 14
Lateral Leadership: Tactics and Techniques for Effective Influence Without Formal Authority
Ed Wesemann, Gerry Riskin, Mike White
Feb. 22 - 23
Edge International Southeastern Mid-sized Law Firm Forum The Planters Inn in Historic Downtown, Savannah, Georgia