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December 20, 2005

Cross-Selling Other Lawyers in Your Firm

At my previous firm I was on the Marketing Committee. We went through a phase where we talked about cross-selling by our partners of other partners in different specialties. The buzzword for this back then was "synergy." We conducted a written poll of partners and found out--to most people's embarrassment--that experienced lawyers who had been partners for years had no idea what their partners did other than "transactional," "tax," "commercial litigation," "IP," etc. Because more detailed knowledge of actual experience was seldom shared, no one could see client "fits" unless it hit them over the head.

For example, a litigator who worked primarily with energy clients had no idea whether or not the tax people had (and in fact they did) the expertise to advise on the implications of tax-related legislation affecting natural gas companies that the U.S. House Ways and Means or Senate Finance committees had recently approved or were considering. And the tax lawyers might not know that their utility clients could use the services of experienced oil and gas litigation people--their own partners--in certain states on specific "take or pay" issues. Opportunities were missed.

Firms with more than one practice area need to develop simple but lasting education programs--which include and legitimize "dumb-question" sessions about what people do. Selling involves asking good questions, and seeing fits. You need a better question than: "Hey, like to meet our head intellectual property lawyer?! She's first-rate, and she loves hockey!" Learn what your co-workers do. Keep up with what they are doing.

Posted by JD Hull at December 20, 2005 12:41 AM


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