I’ve been talking about ways that staff professionals at law firms can produce value for inside counsel. In recent posts, I covered helping in-house counsel with communications and branding and introducing inside attorneys to potential new clients for their own companies.
Here’s another often overlooked way that lawyers and staff can produce value: Help inside counsel find lawyers across the U.S. and around the globe.
Those of us who operate in law firms can use many sources to find legal resources in far-flung locations: other offices, firms with which our lawyers have worked, formal affiliations such as Lex Mundi, and the all-familiar internal emails that start with “Pardon the interruption, but do any of you know a divorce lawyer in…….” While finding legal resources is a routine, and relatively easy, part of working in a private law firm, it’s a huge pain for inside counsel. Many of my GC friends, especially those who work in small law departments, complain about how much time they are forced to invest in finding legal resources in geographies with which they are not familiar. They just don’t have the extensive current networks that are a strength of private firms.
I’m surprised that law firms don’t make a bigger deal about their networks and more assertively offer to identify resources and connect the dots for inside lawyers. Certainly, such network-sharing should be an element of great client service on the part of lawyers. But what is stopping non-lawyer staff from providing the same service for our inside-counsel friends? Using our networks to find legal resources is quick, easy, fun and valueable to inside counsel.
When I am working to connect the dots for my inside counsel friends, I find that it often is quicker, easier and more efficient to reach out not to a lawyer, but the CMO at another firm. Most CMOs know more about the breadth and depth of skills within their firms than do the lawyers who work there. In addition, marketing professionals understand, and most often are able to communicate candidly about, the social skills of lawyers that they might recommend for service to my clients and contacts.
I’d add that marketing professionals have access not only to the law firm’s traditional networks, but others such as LMA, LSSO and other law firm sales and marketing networks. We could and should access these networks on behalf of our clients and prospective clients, as well.
It doesn’t take a lawyer to identify a resource for inside counsel and then to connect the dots. If you are a legal sales and/or marketing professional, I suggest you assertively insert yourself into this value-added activity.