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December 17, 2006

The Art of 'Subsequent Remedial' Advice

If you are truly service-driven for corporate clients, you live it, breathe it, get it. And all your employees do. It's not a ruse you lay on clients to get new work through the door because you need a new one-night stand to make ends meet, or because it sounds good (i.e., you and yours are could care less about clients, and are in fact the "Eddie Haskells" of client service; yet "client service" must be in your promotional materials and it's cool these days to make even specious noises about it). Instead, you know that "doing the work is marketing". For you, keeping good clients is a passion, preoccupation, a religion. It's not just for show.

Here's an idea for lawyers who are serious about service. In many business litigations your firm has opportunities to isolate and bring to the client's attention "areas for improvement" highlighted in litigation. Your trial lawyers make mental notes about how lawsuits either arise or are made complicated and expensive by conditions, procedures or documents which need corrective action at the client's shop. These defects usually lurk unnoticed in day-to-day business practices, often obvious to the client's rank and file employees. It could be: a confusing employee handbook, a potentially faulty environmental storage practice, ambiguous language in a surety or insurance document, and even a culture or specific office location of the client which which seems ripe for workplace discrimination claims .

You get the idea.

So early on in the engagement, inform your general counsel or client rep about the problem or imperfection, and tell her that other departments in your law firm would be glad to help outline the problem in detail and/or solve it. If the client doesn't need or want your help to fix the problem, fine. The point is that you are looking out for your client in the long-term--in overall operational areas of its business--and your firm cares enough to say something and offer to help.

Everybody wins when you help clients address systemic issues presented by litigation. No insincere gimmicks here: just alert and useful lawyering as your real marketing tool.

Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzb├╝hel Desk) at December 17, 2006 08:48 AM


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