This is the era of corporates. The corporate or business sector has shown extraordinary growth in the last few decades which has resulted in launching a lot of new career avenues for people, corporate law being one of the most prominent ones.
A corporate lawyer is someone who guides a company to run within the legal jurisdiction either as an in- house or as a consultant or as an advocate or as a policymaker or as a researcher or as a Judge. Be it an operational decision, a new merger, a case against the company, a business deal, a corporate lawyer is needed to set the parameters right. It is a comparatively new field and hence promises opportunities and growth options.
The future of corporate law firms will be far less comfortable. Successful law firms will require far stronger customer focus, under promising and over-delivering, exceeding expectations every time. It means deep insight into what it feels like to be a customer, with an intuitive understanding of what matters.
HOW AN INDUSTRY FOCUS DRIVES BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND CLIENT SERVICE?
While industry focus is not a new approach to law firm services organization, there are many corporate law firms that still segment their services by practice areas instead of industries. Creatively re-imagining service delivery by industry sectors opens the door to many benefits for law firms and creates the optimal framework that caters explicitly to meet clients’ industry-specific needs. Of course, when law firms take an industry-focused go-to-market approach, clients undoubtedly benefit from the lawyers’ holistic view of the industry. This method enables teams to identify similar patterns and to anticipate issues likely to arise in the context of the industry.
ADOPTING CLIENT SERVICE AS A BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
To deliver best-in-class services to a client, business specialists and administrative professionals can play crucial roles in industry groups and on client teams as subject matter experts, project managers, and effective dot-connectors to marshal resources from around the firm. Incorporating people who are widely known in their respective fields provide unique value and create a more positive perception of the firm as an industry insider and highly efficient enterprise.
The team of experts understand the rapidly changing dynamics of growing businesses and provide expertise to ensure that the ideas and interests of their clients are protected with timely and accurate corporate legal advice. With utmost importance being given to the client’s requirements, they strive to ensure high-quality work and provide the best possible solutions to enable business. All corporate law firms tout their legal knowledge, it is table stakes in today’s competitive environment. We believe that it is the industry focus and understanding of the general counsel’s intersectional legal challenges that will be the compelling discriminator.
According to a benchmark study, less than 10% of people who call a law firm get to speak to a solicitor, and 42% of the time, potential clients have to wait for 3 or more days to receive a reply to their voicemail or web form inquiry.
That’s not good at all: in the age of total mobility and instant communication, clients aren’t likely to wait for days to hear back from you, they’d rather turn to another law firm that cares about their time. Creating and fostering excellent relationships is the key to becoming a rainmaker. Providing existing clients with extraordinary service is every corporate lawyer’s ticket for prosperity and growth.
WHAT CONSTITUTES EXCELLENT SERVICE FOR A CORPORATE LAWYER?
Providing excellent service to clients pays off big time. Studies indicate that 80% of new business comes from existing clients in the form of repeat work, new work for other attorneys, and internal and external referrals for new work. Furthermore, the benefits of retaining existing clients are huge. The profitability of a corporate lawyer’s team that retains 98% of its clients is far greater than one that retains 95% or less of its clients.
1. BE REACHABLE
Lawyers who make themselves available to respond to client emergencies throughout the day, seven days a week, build client trust and loyalty. Attorneys should not offer this kind of accessibility to all clients at all times, but when there are critical periods in preparing and managing client matters, being totally accessible speaks volume. A client who can’t get a lawyer during critical times will find another lawyer.
2. SHOW RESPECT BY INVOLVING THE CLIENT
Asking a client their opinion shows that you are interested in them, and that, they are an important part of finding solutions to problems. Ask them, “What do you think we should do?” and listen to their responses. Keeping the client in the loop is another form of respect. It doesn’t matter if you think an issue is trivial. If the client thinks that an issue is important, it is important, and the attorney needs to keep the client regularly informed as a sign of respect.
3. BUILD A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH CLIENTS
Most attorneys are very skilled at logical, analytical thinking required for problem-solving. What many lawyers lack and/or undervalue are relationship skills. Relational skills build strong practices. The ability to anticipate how a client is likely to be affected emotionally by your actions or inaction and the ability to take the client’s perspective work wonders. Interpersonal skills enhance relationships, increase mutual positive regard, and can go a long way in creating a continuous flow of new business.
4. BE PROACTIVE AND GET TO KNOW THE CLIENT ON A PERSONAL LEVEL
You can become friends with your clients or not. It’s a personal choice, but it’s important to develop a personal relationship with clients over and above the legal work. This can be as simple as knowing what sports they like or having a conversation about their child’s science project. Showing concern and, when appropriate, offering advice about their sick parents, career advancement puts a human face on a business relationship. It builds a personal relationship that makes doing business with you over another equally qualified attorney an easy choice.
5. BECOME AN ADVISOR BY BUILDING TRUST
Trust is priceless. Without it, even good legal work is suspected and business development is almost impossible. Trust grows when you competently provide the legal expertise to solve client issues or when you refer the client to another attorney with the skills and experience to better resolve the client’s issues. These acts build trust.
6. NURTURE CLIENTS
Most people thrive when nurtured properly. Nurturing a client properly means anticipating what they need and providing it in a way that is easy for them to receive. Different clients require different kinds of nurturance. Some need a business meeting over lunch, some need to bounce an idea off you during a game of golf or while attending a basketball game, and some need to work with you on a charity event you both endorse. Tailor the nurturance to the specific client and you and the client will enjoy it.
Very few people naturally excel at anything. To excel requires dedication to mastery, training, and a lot of practice. The reward of excellent client service is a steady flow of work and a career in which you have loyal clients who want what you have to offer even when economic conditions are poor and business activity is slow. When they have legal needs, they turn to you. When their colleagues and friends have legal needs, they send them to you with an unqualified endorsement, and when they need personal attention, they seek you out. If you want to know if learning and practicing client service excellence is worth the investment, ask any achiever like our young corporate lawyer Mira Banga.
Learned Advocate Mira Banga is an alumna of the National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. She has been practicing in the corporate field since 2015. After gaining experience in this field, she started her independent practice under the name of ‘Lawssistance’ and incorporated her own office in 2020. The name of her office itself constitutes her mission of assisting people with her knowledge of corporate law practice in all possible manner.
All members of her team comprise lawyers who are dedicated to the provision of services like drafting and reviewing various investment contracts, commercial contracts, sports, media, and entertainment contracts as well as wills. The team of experts at Lawssistance understands the rapidly changing dynamics of growing businesses and provides expertise to ensure that the ideas and interests of their clients are protected with timely and accurate corporate legal advice. With utmost importance being given to the client’s requirements. They have several services available for their clients like Registration of business, Commercial contracts, Media and entertainment laws, Sports contracts, and Investment and Startup advice.
Mira strongly felt that she is inclined to do what is needed to help people have easy access to required knowledge from experts. She believes in doing things differently because in other law firms or other places, people do not get proper insight, they do not give a holistic view of things. It’s just trust basis that, you’re a big brand. In her opinion, she would explain it to her clients, make it simple for them, go down to their level of understanding. This way, the client feels more confident and satisfied. With this kind of legal assistance, she has a lot of clients who keep coming back and have appreciated the team their approach and the level of their understanding. This rightly serves to adopt client service as a business development strategy that we spoke about above.
THE FUTURE OF CORPORATE LAW
Most staff sat in traditional offices, where they saw clients and worked full time. Virtual law firms are growing very fast in numbers. They may have a very small physical office, with team members working from home or various other locations, maybe part-time. They benefit from the fact that it is unusual these days for people to go and see a lawyer. Those that wish to future-proof their careers will focus on areas that require specialist knowledge, keep ahead in digital innovation and social media, and invest in key relationships with clients.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has become an integral part of leading law firms as it offers multiple benefits to automate work: legal research and due diligence work can be accelerated by confirmation of facts, cross-checking, background verification that in turn promotes faster litigation procedures. Sorting of documents based on keyword search, sifting through years of legal data to predict legal outcomes, case documentation with e-discovery processes can accelerate the corporate law profession.
Technology has removed physical footprints for corporate lawyers too. The traditional model of functioning of the legal community has been dramatically turned with the advent of digital technology— especially in the post-pandemic scenario. On the positive side, this has helped flexibility to work across borders, travel and have their office on wheels, save significant infrastructure and maintenance costs and reduce manpower. However, if the plan includes co- working spaces and collaborative work environments, there could be a possibility of sailing in both physical as well as digital boats.