“Why didn’t Alan use us for their C-level employment agreements? I mean, we just handled their debt financing six months ago.”
“Why didn’t Susan call us after that terrible accident? We did such a good job for her and her husband on their estate plan.”
“Why did Ben refer that litigation out to those guys when we’ve been nailing CUTPA claims for years?”
Chances are good that you’ve asked that kind of question and felt the frustration from which it arises. I hear it all the time from lawyers in general practice firms and in boutiques, and even from lawyers who are already tightly niched. The root of the problem lies in the mistaken assumption that your clients and referral sources know and understand the range of your capabilities.
Whether you’re providing broad advice in the role of outside GC, or drilling down into a specific legal area, the truth is that your clients think of you almost exclusively within the framework of the legal task they’ve hired you to address. Your referral sources, too, think of you largely within the framework of their direct experience with you. Don’t take the easy way out and blame the client or the referral source: “But he knows we do that!” No he doesn’t. At least not well enough to think of you when those other needs arise.
So here’s the place to start: Make a list of your top 25 clients and referral sources, and make a plan to have a conversation with each of them in the first half of ’09. Start with a prompt like this: “Hey Alan – I was thinking about it, and I wonder if you know the rest of the kind of work we do [or I do].” For some, the right time will be when you’re with them next. For others, the “right” time will be when you set up the lunch. You will be continuously surprised by how limited people are in their knowledge and understanding of what you or your firm can do to help them reach their objectives. Once you’ve gone through this exercise, you’ll start having these conversations early in your new relationships. As a result, you’ll start harvesting more work and more revenue.