,,Why read this article? ,, ,This short article challenges the way in which law firms approach client activities and sets out alternative thinking on ways your law firm can better keep your clients interests in mind when setting strategy for your firm.

,Large global law firms generally approach the delivery of legal services with their clients interests firmly in mind. However when it comes to how law firms approach client strategy, communication and their teams understanding of their clients challenges, it is a very different approach. The key to truly developing trusted advisor relationships with clients, is to fully understand their world and remember to put the client first in order to best serve their needs.

,, “Client” Objectives

,Most client planning strategy, whether they sit within a structured Key Account Management (KAM) programme or not, will often have ambitious objectives set by the firm, with the firm’s objectives in mind, such as:

,,“Become Client X’s go-to law firm globally for cross-border M&A and generate £1 million in fees billed each year”.

,As you can see, this objective is not aligned to what the client is trying to achieve, and rather focused on what the law firm wants to achieve from the relationship with this client. Instead law firms should identify and consider aligning their objectives with clients their, for example:

,,“Support Client X in its key global markets (it has operations in the following countries US, Germany and China) and on strategic projects that help Client X achieve growth in the software sector through them pursuing their M&A pipeline”.

,,“Client” Reporting / Communication

,Often large corporates require firms to produce regular relationship reporting, whereby firms showcase how they have invested in the relationship e.g. value-add, secondments, innovation etc. These often include information demonstrating what firms have done for their clients.

,A better approach and one that demonstrates to the client your understanding of their business, is to share how some of the above activities has helped their business to achieve their goals, for instance, if the legal team is under pressure from their management team to reduce cost, have you provided greater cost certainty through offering alternative fee-arrangement rather then standard hourly rates, be sure to report this information to the client, that also makes it easier for them to champion your work to their board or other stakeholders.

,Another useful tip when carrying out this type of reporting, is to ensure that you are familiar with your clients values and use the clients language throughout your reporting. This further demonstrates you have invested in getting to understand their business and way of thinking.

,,“Client” Service Teams

,Every client is different, they have different objectives and different expectations of what they expect from their external counsel. For large key client relationships, that are serviced by lawyers from different jurisdictions and practice areas across your firm, it is important to make sure that every member of the client service team (CST), fundamentally understands some key basic information about the client to ensure consistency in your service delivery, such as:

  • ,What does the client’s business do?
  • ,What sector does it operate in and what are the challenges it faces. Adopting a
  • ,How does the legal function operate e.g. do they let you interact with their business teams?

Taking action

Review the way in which your firm currently approaches client planning, reporting and other interactions with key clients, and consider what areas you need to improve in order to better align your key client strategies with what your client is ultimately attempting to achieve.