How to align your law department with your clients: eight suggestions

1. The best way is to do consistently good work that helps your clients achieve their goals.

2. Second, structure your law department so your commercial lawyers feel primarily responsible for a particular business unit or units (See my posts of Aug. 3, 2005 that attacks “client alignment”; March 31, 2007 on roadblocks to achieving alignment; April 16, 2007 for an extreme manifestation; and March 28, 2006 with an illustration from PPG and Aug. 2, 2006 with an instance from Qualcomm.).

3. Appoint a single point of contact (SPOC) for each major business unit (See my posts of Oct. 14, 2005 on SPOCs.).

4. Pay attention to the match between inside counsel and key clients (See my post of Nov. 9, 2007 on psychometric instruments.).

5. Make sure your lawyers understand how your company operates and makes money (See my posts of Jan. 25, 2007 about UPS and its field managers who became UPS in-house lawyers; and Oct. 8, 2007 on the same point.).

6. Gather client satisfaction data, using a formal process, and act on those inputs in ways that are visible to clients (See my post of Aug. 28, 2005 on client satisfaction and gap analysis.).

7. Report back to clients what you have done on their behalf (See my post of Oct. 24, 2007 on Freddie Mac and its output statistics.).

8. Empower clients to serve themselves (See my post of Feb. 16, 2006 on self-serve approaches.). Educate clients about the law, its uses and limits.

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