Law firms can be challenging places to work. Lots of highly intelligent, highly compensated people running around. So what’s the challenge you find most daunting? For me, it’s convincing partners (usually equity partners) to change how they manage their client relationships. And that begins with picking up the phone to arrange a client visit. I know folks outside the profession who read this may be scratching their heads, but getting attorneys to visit clients is an incredible challenge. I’ve heard just about all the excuses — from “I don’t want to take up my client’s time” to “We already have all of their legal work anyway” (one of my personal favorites), but in seven years of doing law firm business development, I have yet to see a client visit that didn’t create new opportunities for serving the client better. Still, attorneys are reluctant to conduct the visits. Partly because it’s “non-billable” time and partly because I believe they are very insecure about their client relationships (and they don’t take criticism well). Yes, compensation structures factor into this issue, but again, that’s an excuse. Beyond the visit, the next steps are simply improving the level of client service. That’s a little easier, but without the client visit AND ongoing feedback from the client, it’s difficult to discern how to better serve the client if you don’t talk with them.
All that said, I’ve had more success than failure with this issue, but it still puzzles me why attorneys are so reluctant to visit clients.
What’s your take on the hardest part of your job?