One great way for lawyers to learn how to best serve clients is to list what clients have to say. To that end, check out this article reprinted at Law.com. The article is about lawyers who went to speak to an audience of inside lawyers. Here's the key description:
Sitting between in-house attorneys and facing a room of 100 more, Haidet and Brewster did their best to respond to their audience's pet peeves, including:
• Why outside firms are slow to send invoices but lightning-quick to demand payment.
• Why outside lawyers don't understand the business models and corporate culture of their clients.
• Why outside firms are unwilling to bend on price.
And then there was this gem:
Billing remained an issue that bothered the in-house lawyers.
"Even the firms we trust are always behind in giving us budgets," Kalil said. "On Dec. 20, I know I'll be getting a call from a senior partner at Kirkland & Ellis, asking, 'Can you do this for me tomorrow?'
"They are so slow in getting their budgets to us, but so fast in wanting to get paid," he said.
We lawyers are always fond of saying our relationships with our clients is a "business relationship." When I say that, I mean that discussions about money issues are expected to occur--money is, after all, an integral part of the relationship. But the word 'relationship' means that it is a two-way street. Bending on price, providing budgets in a timely manner, invoicing in a timely manner--those are steps that give you the political capital to ask for faster than normal payment at year-end or other considerations from our clients. Reason begets reason. Fairness begets fairness. But at the same time, indifference begets indifference. Selfishness begets selfishness.
As I discussed here, you need to decide in your heart whether your clients are just wallets or whether they are really friends.