Trusted Advisors Add Value
Clients often have needs outside of actual legal advice. For instance, a client may seek a referral to a local counsel or an expert. A client may need a high-level introduction to a vendor and want to make sure they are choosing the right partner for the job. When you have a trusted legal advisor, she or he is a great person to seek out for referrals and information. You can be sure that I would only give a client a referral to someone I know will do a great job. I want the client to have an excellent result and of course, I want the client to be happy with the person or entity I recommended, since this person’s performance reflects on me. Outside counsel (particularly those with large, well-established networks) can save clients time and effort while ensuring quality control.
We can offer business introductions. Many of us serve as counsel or have relationships with companies in ancillary businesses. We can often help a client cut through many layers and get to the right person or team in an organization.
I regularly provide referrals to clients (and former clients and in-house friends), including:
Local counsel (“Michelle, do you have a litigator in Atlanta you recommend who handles non-competes?” “We need counsel in South Jersey.”)
Specialty counsel (“Who do you recommend for trademark work?”)
Litigation support services
Sometimes clients are thinking about implementing new services, such as billing management. I’ve given clients feedback on the systems we’ve interacted with for other clients (e.g, Serengeti) and the usefulness of those offerings.
Outside counsel can also help alert in-house counsel and their team to CLE programs (which can be very helpful when you are trying to meet CLE requirements by a deadline), pro bono work, and professional networking. Many of us serve on non-profit and other boards and can introduce you to similar opportunities or just expand your networks. We often run panels at corporate counsel or other organizations and we can get you on a panel if that’s something you are interested in doing.
When you are seeking a new team member – whether an in-house lawyer, paralegal, or other staff member – ask your trusted outside counsel. We know people! I would only refer you a prospective hire that I trust, since again, that person’s performance will reflect back to me. We also have a good sense of “fit” between your organization and the candidates we know. If you have a temporary need – for instance coverage during parental leave – think about reaching out to your outside counsel. We may be able to work out a special flat fee to help with the workload or lend out one of our attorneys to help you with coverage.
I view my client relationships as exactly that – relationships. And, a trusted lawyer makes these relationships last – I am still in a lawyer-client relationship with my first client from over 25 years ago. I relish my relationships and am here to provide top-notch legal advice. I can and am happy to serve as a trusted advisor for “adjunct” professional services. Don’t hesitate to ask!