Washington Lawyer - September 2016 - 33

PARTNERS' PERSPECTIVE By Jeffery Leon How do you court new clients, and what considerations must be made? FERN O'BRIAN MARY GATELY CATHY HINGER Sedgwick LLP DLA Piper LLP Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice LLP One of the key ways I meet and gain new clients is to spend time working with them in their own environments. For example, going to industry-based conferences. That's one area I've focused on in the past few years. You have to understand the client's business and their needs tremendously well, and determine whether or not the services you have to offer them fit their needs. Prior to the 2008 recession, there was more work to go around, but now the situation is intensely competitive on a matter-by-matter basis. You have to have done your homework up front. It's not just taking the client to a ballgame or anything like that. Clients want to see the value of what you're going to give them, so you have to be invested in their issue and have an educated solution for them. You have to present that you are somebody who can produce a result for them that they want. It's much more focused. I believe that the best way to entertain a client or prospective client is to participate in something with them that is personally or professionally enriching for them. I find out where they are in their organization, what their career goals are, and what is important to them, and I provide things that will help them, such as a networking function, a speaking engagement, or an event. I believe clients appreciate the relationships they have with their lawyers. Clients value especially having a relationship with lawyers that goes beyond just merely having the right expertise. It's important to visit them in person, and to provide events that are value-added for them, like conferences or networking events. I also make a point of staying in touch with clients as they move around the industry, which can also result in new business as they transition to another company. Finally, over the last five to 10 years, clients have become more cost-conscious and have a willingness to speak with you about alternative fee arrangements. You have to be adept at making those arrangements work for both sides. Our firm tends to do more targeted events to court clients. We use our pro bono projects, CLE, and seminars. Or we'll have an event like Compliance Week where we'll invite people to a reception at our office and include a panel discussion by compliance professionals and DLA Piper attorneys . To me, the most effective way to engage clients is in a small setting, so if you can, present a CLE to in-house lawyers at a client site or partner to do a pro bono event. You can then discuss the issues they face, the things they'd like to learn about, and what kind of work they have. It's an opportunity to get your foot in the door. I try to be a connector for people. I let them know that I'm a person who can help connect them with the right people and find them resources, and I can help them solve their problems. We've got a firm of 550 lawyers with tremendous resources, so tapping into that network and sharing those resources is something I do. People want to do business with people they like and trust, and when I meet with a client we get to know one another and become professional friends first. It's not about what I need, it's about what they need. Many clients have very limited human capital resources to work with, and the traditional days of taking a client to dinner, going out for drinks, playing golf, and doing sporting events are antiquated, and not necessarily effective anymore. For additional interviews, visit dcbar.org. Photos: Fern O'Brien courtesy Sedgwick LLP, Mary Gately courtesy DLA Piper LLP, Cathy Hinger courtesy Womble Carlyle Sandbring & Rice LLP * WASHINGTON LAWYER * SEPTEMBER 2016 33 http://www.pepperlaw.com http://www.pepperlaw.com http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CB0QFjAAahUKEwi4sJCw1cfIAhULlB4KHbAkBNI&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pillsburylaw.com%2Fwilliam-atkins&usg=AFQjCNE3gcCXQXyuWPTJkWerqh14qsRf5w&bvm=bv.105454873,d.dmo http://www.dentons.com/en/scott-demartino http://www.dentons.com/en/scott-demartino http://www.blankrome.com/index.cfm?contentID=10&bioID=3333 http://www.zuckerman.com/ http://digitalcommons.law.umaryland.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1257&context=jbtl http://digitalcommons.law.umaryland.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1257&context=jbtl http://www.paulhastings.com/professionals/details/tammydaub http://www.pepperlaw.com/people/hilary-s-cairnie/ http://www.pepperlaw.com/people/kelley-p-doran/ http://www.bradley.com/nathan-p-viebrock http://www.bradley.com/financial-services-litigation-and-compliance-team-practices http://www.bradley.com/financial-services-litigation-and-compliance-team-practices http://www.bradley.com/financial-services-litigation-and-compliance-team-practices http://www.bradley.com/Government_Enforcement_and_Investigations http://www.bradley.com/Government_Enforcement_and_Investigations http://www.bradley.com/Government_Enforcement_and_Investigations https://www.dcbar.org/about-the-bar/news/partner-perspective-courting-clients.cfm http://www.dcbar.org http://www.dcbar.org/

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