The current crisis is changing how law firms & lawyers do business and interact with clients in a way that could permanently alter both parties' behavior
Like so many others, I’ve spent a good amount of time recently looking for examples of how the current crisis is changing how law firms do business and interact with their clients.
One of these conversations I had was with Dan Haley, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Sprinklr. And I have to say, talking with him changed my outlook.
Sprinklr, based in New York City, is an interesting company. Their vision statement is: “To be the world’s most loved enterprise software company, ever.” Their stated mission is “to enable every organization on the planet to make their customers happier.” Not exactly typical corporate lingo. And this impacts how Haley, as GC, chooses his outside counsel. He likes to work with lawyers who understand his company’s culture and can help to make him and the people he reports to happier.
So I put the question to him: With everything going on right now, what would make you happier — an outside counsel who calls you up to say, ‘Let’s get these 10 things out of the way quickly so you can move on to what’s next;’ or the one who calls you up and says, ‘First, I just want to know, how are you doing’?
Haley provided an example that he felt hit it right on the head for him. As part of the recent chaos, he had to reach out to one of his outside counsel to temporarily put the brakes on a deal that’s been going forward. He knows that law firms are justifiably concerned about a slow-down in their work, so he expected some pushback on the idea of pausing the project. Instead, this lawyer’s immediate response was, “Not a problem. We can definitely hit the brakes now and we can always sprint later if we need to.”
Haley was pleasantly surprised. Where he had anticipated some friction, what he found was not only willing cooperation but also a confident assurance that all necessary resources would be marshalled when the time was right. In reflecting on this interaction, though, Haley was less surprised by the reaction. This was how this lawyer had always interacted with him; eager to please, willing to go the extra mile, and wanting him to be a happy client.
And therein lies the lesson for me.
Much of the discussion about the current crisis focuses on how it will change how law firms serve clients in terms of what kind of work they will do for them and for how much.
But here was an example of a lawyer whose focus on serving her clients was and remains how she serves her clients without emphasizing the much. She’s thinking beyond the immediate, looking at how to best strengthen the relationship for the long term. And it’s working. Unsurprisingly, Haley told me that regardless of what happens with this particular deal, that lawyer will always get work from him and his company. Whether she’s doing it intentionally or just by happenstance, she’s fitting Sprinklr’s mission to make customers happier. And she’s winning the competition against other lawyers and law firms as a result.
As we continue the conversation about how client service will change in this new reality, that’s an interesting thought to keep in mind — Focus less on how much work we do for a client. Know your clients and their businesses. Know what makes them happy as clients. Strive to make that the focus of how we serve our clients. Not just in this current climate, but going forward as well. The much will take care of itself.