Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How do your clients measure your legal work?

One of the quickest ways that I can invoke silence in a seminar is asking attorneys if they know how their clients measure the success of the legal work that they do for them.

It amazes me that this simple step of alignment, and huge opportunity, is missed all too often. The client has a legal need and as luck would have it I am an attorney that can handle that need…

In this day of alternative fee agreements, RFP’s, and the like, how does that separate you from everyone else looking to secure business?

I get asked all of the time to be measured on Client Development Process implementation. Some of the more common metrics are: Reduction in RFP’s, hit rate on RFP’s, Increased bill rate per partner, profit per partner, marketing expense pay back ratio. These are all granular items that can be tied specifically to my offering.

One of the main reasons that the answer is unknown is because the question is a business one that is not be asked of a business unit. A General Counsel has a legal need generated by a business unit. One that probably several firms in your area can handle. So they go with the cheapest or the one that appears to fit in a billing range, set by them. Without value established, it’s just a number, and a number that most likely someone will come under to get the business. Not always, but often.

You get delegated to people that you sound like. If you sound like an attorney, chances are you will end up talking with attorneys. Those attorneys from a business more than likely talk to several attorneys at several firms. Many that probably do the same or similar work as you. Do you want to play bill rate bingo?

Rainmakers talk to all levels of a business and have targeted conversation tied specifically to goals associated with each job title. A CFO has different business goals than a COO. A CMO has different goals than a VP of HR. A CEO has an eye on all of them but has their own business goals. These goals are things that they are measured and bonused on.

Having these individual conversations with each enables you to identify costs. How much product liability they have with a new product launch, merger and acquisition goals, on-boarding, turnover cost, retention. What do these things do to affect stock prices, credit ratings, etc?

Value and vision before service and price. Once you know an organizations business goals and what is holding them back from achieving them, you can offer a vision of how engaging in your services will help them achieve those goals. Without value, cost is the only variable. This helps you determine if this is business that is even worth it to you. Is it business that is best served by a trusted member of your referral network?

Regular meetings to review success metrics of your business relationship. So you have won the business. Every quarter, schedule a meeting to go over metrics that you all have agreed to measure the relationship on. If you things are on track or better than planned, is there a better time to leverage more business? If things are not going as planned would you rather wait until they decide to go with another firm or make adjustments accordingly?

In the race to cut costs, you have two ways to play the current environment. Buy the business and destroy your bill rate, or create value and help businesses achieve their goals, satisfy a need, or solve their problems.

I have worked with several firms to create measureable results and would welcome the conversation with your firm.

Please contact Andrew Wilcox, Andrew@Wilcox-legal.com, 850-893-8984