Corporate clients are once again litigating "bet the company" cases, and this category of legal work has resurged along with three other practices, according to Michael Rynowecer, speaking on a BTI Consulting webinar, "Market Outlook and Client Service Review 2016.
"2015 is going to be different," he said. "Corporate counsel are saying they don't have the staff and bandwidth to deal with these bet the company cases. This is the kind of high-margin work we have been waiting for." These cases stem from regulatory enforcement, government investigations, and global transactions tied to supply chains.
The other "priority practices" include:
- Cybersecurity and data privacy - "Clients will tell you there is a shortage of seasoned attorneys who can inform them, and they are paying a premium for these lawyers. There is no company in the US that is not concerned with cybersecurity and data privacy."
- Mergers & acquisitions - "We think we are at the beginning of a new wave of global large transactions."
- Class actions - "We're seeing more cases involving product labeling and consumer fraud."
Six easiest ways for a law firm to get hired by a corporation
- Superior client service. "The key is to understand client's business, and to be able to articulate the business risk of a new matter."
- Recommendations by other corporate counsel. "You have to get your clients to stand up and stick their neck out for you," he said.
- Being quoted as an expert on industry trends.
- Being a presenter at a client's industry event (not an ABA event). "Clients say that if they can see someone present and talk about the industry, they can make their own assessment of a lawyer."
- Law firm brand reputation.
- In-person introductory meeting.
Proven tactics for winning the high-margin work
There are 17 client service tactics that drive the best relationships, according to Rynowecer, and the most important are understanding the client's business, client focus, providing value for the dollar and "commitment to help," meaning that the firm is not just billing time but is genuinely dedicated to getting the best result for the client.
That said he listed new tactics that will help law firms win work from corporations:
- Treat each major client as a "market of one." Law firms must figure out how to identify the new opportunities and create customed engagement such has having a planning session with a client about new matters.
- Deliver custom, multi-practice CLEs for top clients with multiple partners presenting.
- Large-scale use of independent client feedback -- entailing dozens to hundreds of interviews by a third party -- and acting on the informaion.
- Offer to triage new matters with clients across practices as they come it.
- Build client service metrics into partner objectives and strategic plans.