If it is true, as I believe, that value-driven legal services and profitability are not mutually exclusive, then law firm client teams offer a first step toward achieving both.
Client teams come in many shapes and sizes. When I use the term Client Team, I am referring to an organized, disciplined approach to strengthen and expand existing client relationships. It is cross-disciplinary in that a team includes attorneys from multiple practice areas within a firm. It is also cross-functional in that the team assesses its ability to support the client from multiple perspectives – as a business advisor, account manager, systems analyst and staffing manager to name just a few.
The overall goals of a Client Service Team are to:
• Solidify existing relationships to retain/expand existing work.
• Identify opportunities and expand the work across practice groups.
• Increase profitability.
• Secure the client as a referral source.
Through these efforts, however, law firms strengthen their knowledge of their clients business and can better understand how key decisions are made. They learn the trends, drivers and needs that keep their client up at night.
Armed with this information and a strong relationship, law firms can open the much needed dialogue around billing, knowledge management and key processes. Lawyers don’t necessarily need to have all the answers, but understanding the challenges clients face are the first step toward solving them.
As law firms consider ways to transform their business model to address market demand (read—better service, more efficiency, predictable pricing), strategic client teams offer an important step in this direction.