Posted by: johnocunningham | August 15, 2019

Legal Clients on Service Experiences They Loved or Hated

Corporate legal clients were very candid about service experiences that positively “wowed” them and others that got lawyers fired or dropped from outside counsel lists – that was the audience take at the annual Legal Sales and Service Organization (“LSSO”) RainDance conference in June.

Thanks to Louise Henkel, director of business development and marketing at Hill Ward Henderson, for her notes on the input provided by the following panelists:

  • Christine Castellano, former Sr. VP, GC and Chief Compliance Officer for Ingredion, Inc.
  • Dennis Garcia, Assistant GC at Microsoft
  • Steven Heinrichs, Executive VP, GC and Chief Legal Compliance Officer at Mueller Water Products
  • Edward Paulis III, VP and Sr. Assistant GC at Zurich North America

Here are some examples of service experiences that impressed in-house corporate counsel and earned big points for the lawyers who provided them:

  • One firm provided a detailed budget proposal with “if-then” scenarios that anticipated various contingencies, and then followed through with quality work consistent with budget.
  • Another firm – at the conclusion of a matter – shared “lessons learned” packaged in a format that was readily digestible and offered practical insights and suggestions.
  • Another firm offered up a creative alternative fee arrangement that contained a “success fee” for the upside and pain-sharing for the downside.
  • In general, quality work and regular, clear and simple communication earned big points with in-house counsel.

Panelists also called out some of the service experiences that can get lawyers fired or dropped from outside counsel lists, such as:

  • Failing to follow instructions
  • Failing to get proper authority to make an important decision
  • Failure to be diplomatic or acting antagonistically toward the client
  • Just being overly adversarial with anyone
  • Failing to communicate or communicating poorly
  • Consistently waiting until the last minute to meet deadlines
  • Ethical failures
  • Excessive billing
  • Failing to go through the legal department with communication or decision-making

Big kudos to moderator Julianne Hartzell, partner at Marshall Gerstein, for some excellent panel questioning.


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