Some may think that I have schizophrenic tendencies for saying "Surprise Your Clients!" in one recent post and "Clients Abhor Surprises” in an earlier one. Well, let me make this perfectly clear. That doesn’t prove a thing. Although it does, it doesn’t. Oops.

In a recent article by Amy Miller in The AmLaw Daily a number of In-house counsel, who attended E. I. du Pont de Nemour’s recent legal network meeting, made it clear that it is "okay to spoil the ending" and "to be boring." In other words, the message from “In-House Lawyers to Outside Counsel: No Surprises, Please.” 

They pointed out that predictability, "maybe even more than alternative-billing arrangements," is what they want. Additionally, they:

  • Don’t want their lawyers to be strangers,
  • "Be budget friendly," and
  • Look for early resolutions to their cases.

Nonetheless, I would venture to say that in-house counsel would not mind pleasant surprises, such as outside lawyers that beat their own deadlines, understood their business, seek feedback and let clients determine the value of a matter. Those are just some of the good surprises that were mentioned in my post "Surprise Your Clients!" In fact, if outside lawyers were to make those "surprises" routine, then they wouldn’t really be surprises and my schizophrenia would disappear. That’s a good.

The important point is to avoid bad surprises and emphasize the good ones in your client relationships.