Faint glimmers of hope for changing the pandemic’s arc for the better are popping up. But the legal world is still upside down — or at least sideways. And this makes client service matter more than ever.
So how do you stand out, how do you get ahead, and what can you do? Here are a few real-life examples from some clever and exceptional attorneys — as measured by clients. Enjoy and learn:
Here’s What We’re Going To Do
“The WFH mandates started rolling in across our different locations. We had already started our WFH initiative which moved things along. We were largely leaving the decisions up to the business unit leaders as to what to do, using our standard language about closures and layoffs. I got one of my regular calls from David, a partner I work with a lot. He told me he saw we were starting to use remote workers and a number of our facilities were, or were about to be, under mandates to work remotely.
You have to understand, David is an M&A guy. He had one of his partners who is a workforce guy on the phone to ask me questions.
He asked me how we were handling these different situations. After telling him, he wanted to see every email or other communication we had sent to employees. He offered to use his associates and eDiscovery team to find the emails and communications. David explained how these could be scrutinized for discrimination, non-compliance, and otherwise be used against us. He wanted to make sure we were doing the right things — along with using the correct language and being consistent.
David set up a data room to store prior and future communications. He and his team now review all the emails before they are sent and look at patterns and potential areas of risk. We are also developing standard language for when we bring people back.
I think he helped us manage risk, and frankly we appreciate the way he came in and facilitated the process. I never asked for help, I didn’t even think to ask — he was just out in front of me. He reduced our risk, workload, and made me look pretty good in front of my CEO.”
Large Consumer Brands Company
I’ll Take the Heat
“We were in the middle of a small but important acquisition of a technology company. We were going to use their technology to build out a new product line. My CEO was reluctant to move ahead because of concerns about being able to close the deal and manage all the moving parts during a pandemic. I assured my CEO we could get it done and gave him a target date. After a few more conversations he agreed.
I told Stephen, my partner at our law firm, we were moving ahead and gave him the target dates. Everything was going smoothly. We were planning for the closing when I noticed one key agreement, highly specific to this deal, was missing from the closing package. I called Stephen, he checked his files and said he didn’t have the document. After we both searched, I realized I never sent this pivotal document to him. My heart sank and I felt my credibility was just blown. I had to tell my CEO we would miss our deadline — which meant other deadlines for integration would be delayed and would impact the product launch and technology team.
Stephen asked me to send him the document and said if I had to tell the CEO anything, to blame it on him. He was willing to take the heat for the missed document.
It turns out we had the document. One of my in-house attorneys had handled it because of its sensitivity and had filed it in a special place no one else knew about. But fortunately, we had what we needed to move forward and stay on schedule. Stephen reviewed the document one last time and we were good.
He was willing to take the hit for me. He told me the relationship would withstand the damage and why do any damage to my career. I have never had any outside attorney show this kind of interest in me — ever. It gave me a whole new perspective. I am just blown away.”
Leading Telecom Company
“As soon as the shutdowns started, one of our law firms told us they would file for stays on every matter they were handling. Then they sent me copies of each one for my records. I never asked them about this before they called, because I was too busy dealing with our closures. Frankly, I really didn’t know they (the firm) thought about us this much. Sending me the copies showed real thoughtfulness and thoroughness I hadn’t thought about before. They rose a few notches in my book when it comes to litigation.”
Chief Legal Officer
Large Integrated Food Company
Clients bring a broad definition of client service. Truly outstanding client service is unexpected. It can help personally and professionally, it can propel client careers, and most of all it will show you care and act more than all others. Look for simple ways to help, listen with depth and an ear toward problem-solving. And, stay in communication so you are the first and only one to hear how you can help your clients.
Be well. Be cautious. Be safe.
The MAD Clientist
And – don’t miss our just-released BTI Practice Outlook 2021: Pandemic-Led Legal Spending. Get the most detailed, authoritative look at outside counsel spending for 2021 — for 14 practices and 18 industries in our brand new report. Learn more.