What Clients -- and Prospective Employers -- Want from You

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At the Bloomberg BNA Big Law Business Marketing Roundtable in May 2016, law firm leaders and those tracking trends in the business of law took a look at how law firms -- and law firm attorneys -- need to change to survive and flourish in today's environment. Tara Weintritt, a partner in Wicker Park Group, a consulting firm that specializes in "creating dramatic client loyalty" for more than 80 law firms. Since 2007, the firm has conducted 1,500 corporate client feedback interviews for law firms, focusing not just on feedback from general counsel and in-house counsel, but clients within other corporate departments and business units.

As a career coach for lawyers, I often discuss with clients the parallels between business development and career development / job search. It's important for lawyers to understand that clients are talking to each other -- and also have access to social media. (The same is true, of course, for employers.) Weintritt, for example, points out that too often lawyers approach business development from their own perspective, rather than from clients' perspective; job searches too often approach their career development and job search from their own perspective also, rather than from prospective employers' perspective. Weintritt's questions from clients equally apply to prospective employers:

  • Can you fix my problem?
  • Will you make my life easier?
  • Do I like you as a person?

As she points out, there are many smart, qualified lawyers who have the technical expertise necessary to do a job, but it's up to the individual lawyer to demonstrate the *other* qualities clients / employers want and therefore that you need to incorporate into your marketing materials / resume:

Importantly, Weintritt points out that the days of private law firm lawyers moving in-house for a better work/life balance are over. In-house counsel roles are tougher than ever, often with hours and demands as great as in law firms and in-house counsel has pressure managing budgets, including outside counsel spend, and judging outside counsel performance.

Whether you're looking to move in-house, looking to move up the corporate legal / law firm ladder, or looking to build your corporate client base, Weintritt's talk is worth a look. Video below, with opening remarks by Gabe Friedman, Editorial Manager of Bloomberg BNA Big Law Business. Weintritt starts at 2:15.