In several posts over the last couple of months (see Continue Reading below for four of them), I have mentioned that now is the perfect time for smaller firms to approach in-house counsel at larger corporations for business. Some of those reasons include:
- Rates are more reasonable;
- In-house lawyers are more cost conscious;
- More flexibility when it comes to alternative fees;
- Greater value from partners vs. inexperienced associates in larger firms;
- Fewer conflicts of interest problems; and
- Some BigLaw partners are moving to smaller firms.
Okay, you may say, so what are the do’s and don’ts in pitching corporate counsel? Here are a few things to keep in mind in approaching potential clients, according to Frank M. D’Amore, the founder of Attorney Career Catalysts, in an article that appears on Law.com’s Small Firm Business. You should:
- Differentiate yourself in a “significant way."
- Do not oversell your lawyers’ capabilities (in-house counsel can tell a lot by what is said and not said in a lawyer’s bio);
- Do not oversell your firm’s capabilities (In-house counsel are not fooled by inflated claims about particular expertise on a law firm’s web site);
- Do ask the prospect, what specifically they are looking for in order that your proposal will be specific (and avoid seeking work when it is beyond the scope of your firm’s core capabilities. The reason is pretty simple really. When given another opportunity to pitch the company for work where your firm is strong, your prior honesty will greatly enhance your chances of winning that work); and
- Finally, don’t overpower the potential client by sending too many lawyers, or sending the wrong lawyers; e.g., a lawyer for diversity purposes when they will have no role to play in the matter or a senior corporate lawyer for the “grey hair” affect for a litigation matter.
D’Amore points out that in-house lawyers are pretty savvy and have been pitched by many law firms. So, be specific and truthful as to the true capabilities and value your firm brings to the table.