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If you are the general counsel, don’t let partners “speak regularly with key clients”

In 2005, Robert Half Legal published its Future Law Office report on “Client Service: Challenges and Strategies.” In a portion about service issues and solutions, on page 4, a startling quote appears. “The best way for a [law] firm to familiarize itself with a client’s needs is for partners and associates to discuss with general counsel the possibility of speaking regularly with key players such as department heads and the chief executive officer about a wide array of topics, from their current concerns and long-range strategic plans to pricing and billing needs.”

It will be a hot day in the Arctic before general counsel invite partners from law firms, even the most trusted consigliore, to “regularly” spend time with the general counsel’s key clients probing them on whatever they want. Fret disintermediation; worry second fiddle; sweat over being marginalized; dread loss of leverage; and dread disaster.

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