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First, law firms face wildly uneven needs and pressures in different client industries. Then it’s the amorphous process of knowing when and how to reopen. Data privacy lurks in the background as a compelling issue without the pandemic – and now you have top legal decision makers jumping ship in the middle of it all. 

BTI research points to 21% of top legal decision makers in play – they are actively interviewing, looking, or planning to retire soon.

To start, 7% of these clients are actively looking for a new gig. They don’t see opportunity for themselves at their companies. More importantly, they don’t see themselves as trusted by management. And, to top it all off  their law firms don’t engage. So the likelihood of these GCs bringing their law firms with them to their new jobs is low. 

Pretty compelling reasons to move on. But they are not alone. 

Another 8% of GCs are seriously entertaining a move. These clients are driven most by the need to grow in – or out – of their positions. 

Retirement looms – maybe a bit earlier than expected 

BTI research reveals 6% of clients are looking forward to their retirement  soon. This group enjoys their job a bit more than others, as the prospect of leaving the company affairs in order gives them a strong source of satisfaction. It’s interesting to note half of these GCs indicate they are retiring early due to the pandemic – wanting to leave the new order of things to a successor. 

Serious Implications for Law Firms 

The law firm’s perfect outcome is to welcome the new GC and follow their departing client to their next gig. Anything less means the likely loss of a client – as new GCs typically replace their legacy primary firms within 2 years of arrival. But this does not have to happen. Here’s what you can do: 

  1. Create an onboarding process for the relationship partners and team to ensure you lay out a path to bring your new client into the process, and advise them of key issues they may face 
  2. Craft questions to help you learn about expectations and priorities 
  3. Summarize all work in process and the status of each matter
  4. Define how your new clients prefer their communications and how often
  5. Brief your new clients on all matters, issues, and concerns which may have an impact 
  6. Develop a 100-day plan to work with your client to help them layout and communicate their agenda to their team
  7. Introduce a leadership partner to wish them good luck – and let your client know this leadership is always available to help with anything your new client may need – personal or professional 

A new GC’s arrival can be a vast opportunity for law firms or wasted chance. There is little in between. Clients tell me they remember the firms helping them come into their new GC role, the firms who did nothing more than introduce themselves, and the firms who did nothing. The firms who helped are remembered for decades – as are the firms who ignore. 

Be on the lookout and act quickly. You may just create (or keep) a marquee client. 

Be safe. Be well. Be cautious. 


The MAD Clientist

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