Scott Roberts in a recent article in The Indiana Lawyer, explained that “focusing on lasting relationships may not always be the most profitable in the short term, but it pays off.” Jim Donovan, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs and University of Virginia School of Law Adjunct Professor, noted however that one does not need an innate knowledge of how to do this per se; maintaining a successful relationship with a client is a skill that can be learned.
Donovan then goes on to list seven “things all lawyers need to know about covering clients.” These include: really listening to the client (which entails asking open-ended questions, as is the case in active listening), putting the clients first (which means being “prepared to give the client advice that is not in your interest.”). Also “you need to work really hard to convince the client that you’re there for them all the time. If you’re not there for the client on the thing that they’ve hired you to do, someone else is going to be there, and be willing to pick up the phone at 2 or 3 in the morning if you’re not.” Ice Miller Partner Angela Krahulik echoed this sentiment in Roberts’ article when she said: “The things I have done have run the gamut from personal injury to premises liability.”
Another essential element is to become your clients’ “strategic adviser” (which means “advis[ing] the client on matters outside of the matter they’ve been hired to work on.” Roberts emphasized this point too when he spoke of the success of the 80-year legal partnership relationship between Ice Miller LLP and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As Krahulik said: “I can remember only two arguments I’ve actually had for that client — one over ownership of a car at the museum and one over a complicated contract issue. It’s knowing the business and where the transition or change is and being helpful in that process.”
So once a client has signed up for your services, immediately start focusing on how to maintain a satisfactory relationship that can last many decades.