If you're a law firm partner looking to expand your client base, in-house counsel should be at the top of your list. After all, they control their company's legal spending and have the power to give you a steady stream of work. Here's what you need to know about what in-house counsel are looking for when hiring outside counsel.
In-house counsel are looking for three things in outside counsel: competence, chemistry, and cost. Let's break down each one.
Competence is essential. In-house counsel want to hire lawyers who are knowledgeable and experienced in the areas of law that are relevant to their business. They also want to know that those lawyers can handle their matters efficiently and effectively. So how can you show competence?
You don't have to advertise all your accomplishments to your contacts, but making connections with other professionals in the industry can help you identify potential clients and get your name out there. It's also an effective way to build trust and foster good chemistry between you and a prospective client.
Speaking of chemistry, that's the next key component in attracting in-house clients. Corporate counsel want to work with lawyers who they like and who they can trust. They want to know that you're easy to communicate with and will always have their best interests in mind. One thing that can boost trust between you and your in-house client is understanding the pressures on corporate counsel to maximize efficiency without reducing the quality of work. If you can provide solutions that help your clients meet these goals, you might earn their loyalty too.
Cost is also a driving consideration for corporate legal departments. In-house counsel want to know that you're not going to break the bank—but they also don't want to sacrifice quality or service to save a few dollars. Finding the right balance between value and cost is essential.
In 2021, 70% of legal department attorneys listed improved efficiency as a primary consideration for their legal ops practices. In-house departments are outsourcing some of their matters to legal tech to improve efficiency, especially where they can be fully or partially automated or solved with automation or AI solutions. One way to make your firm more attractive to in-house clients is to provide those solutions directly. Offering automated templates for repetitive matters, AI research tools, and expert systems can significantly reduce your response time and your clients' cost in the right areas.
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