It certainly is no secret that a lot of general counsel are not exactly thrilled with their outside law firms these days. What with record profits by BigLaw (and one firm bragging about it), the cost of first year associates salaries and rising billing rates, the evidence is clear. But rising legal costs is only part of the story.

John Remsen’s latest Marketing Tip gives eight reminders of what is important to general counsel, and not all relate to the cost of legal services:

  1. They hire lawyers, not firms (so why are firms spending so much on institutional marketing when face-to-face lawyer interaction – business development – will get better results);
  2. Be available when I need you (be responsive and reachable – returning calls or emails the next day is no longer acceptable);
  3. Keep your promises (deliver your services on deadline – actually, it is better marketing to beat your deadline, as in “under promise, and over deliver”);
  4. Get to know me and my business (it is the best way to become a trusted advisor to your most important clients which in turn results in long term relationships);
  5. Avoid surprises – always (not just when it involves bad news or invoices, but anything that the client is likely to be unhappy about);
  6. Ensure that general counsel look good (their egos – and position within the company – are important, and relate directly to future business);
  7. Don’t overlawyer (the money does matter, so don’t spend $100,000 on a $25,000 matter – assome firms have incredibly done); and
  8. Be nice – to everyone (each person on the client’s team is important, so be nice to all staff people, as well as the lawyers).

It makes a lot of business development sense to listen to what general counsel have to say. The economic viability of your firm may depend on it.