In this episode of the Legal Marketing 2.0 Podcast, Guy is joined by Lee Garfinkle, the Chief Client Development and Relationship Officer at Goodwin, an AMLAW 25 firm with offices in the US, Europe, and Asia. Lee has held senior-level client and marketing roles in law firms for almost 18 years and was a management consultant at Deloitte before joining the legal industry. His industry experience is well rounded, having experience at different types of firms, including a regional firm, a UK-based global firm, and now a fast-growing global US-firm, Goodwin. Lee joins us today to discuss how to engage clients and build deeper relationships with them as a business advisor.
1. Describe your role at Goodwin
Typically most firms have a CMO, and that CMO looks over business development, marketing, comms/PR, and buckets those things together. However, my COO had a vision that if we separate those roles and we have one person focused on branding/marketing/comm operations and another person just deeply focused on our clients, it would benefit the firm. I have to say that from my experience, I was certainly really intrigued about it because I’m always up for a good challenge, but I love the idea of being laser-focused on clients. I get to know the clients, the firm, and the partners. But more importantly, what I can do and what my team can do to help support our partners to deepen relationships is get members from my team more engaged and more client-facing, so it’s pretty exciting.
2. Your firm talks a lot about the business of law – what is it and how does that help strengthen client relationships?
If you think about the traditional law firm model, which is we’re going to do litigation for you, we’re going to do a transaction for you- it’s very focused on the practice of law and what essentially lawyers are trained to do. What the firm decided to do years ago was take a step back and say, well, wait a minute, we have some real expertise here in our global operations team. We look at our staff as professionals who could provide additional support to clients other than just providing support to the firm. So when we talk about bringing the practice of law to clients, that’s what our lawyers do. Still, the business of law focuses more on legal operations and helps clients in a consultant-type way. By helping them with more than just legal issues, you’re helping them with their business issues, and it makes a big difference.
3. Goodwin is one of the few firms that’s organized along industries and not services or practices – how does that help to serve your clients?
In my view, that’s one of the greatest differentiators of the firm. Seven or eight years ago, the firm went through a strategic planning exercise and decided to really take a chance on how we’re structured. I talked about the fact that we’re engaged, and that we are organized by these industry groups and not by office or practice. We are deeply entrenched in five key ecosystems, which include private equity, tech life, sciences, real estate, and financial services. The benefit of being engaged and so involved in those ecosystems is we know the players, we know the problems, we know the solutions. We make connections that others can’t simply make. We are so deeply entrenched in those industries that our knowledge of our clients’ businesses and their industries are really hard to beat.
4. How do you become a true business advisor to your clients?
For business development and client development experts and professionals in law firms, it’s about understanding your clients, their business and what kind of help they need, and understanding what they’re trying to do. So for me getting to know the clients has a bit to do with using their technology and using the things they’re producing. So what are these products, and how do they help? Dive deeply, so it’s the macro and the micro. So on the macro side, understand the industry, or on the micro side, understand the clients and understand what their challenges are. Understand what they’re trying to accomplish, and that’ll help us work with our partners to come up with creative solutions to benefit them.
For attorneys, you can’t think about the client as a transaction. It’s important to understand the client and have an engaged relationship. Lee describes the importance of understanding the client, their industry, and how that leads to thinking of creative ways in which you as the attorney or your law firm can help solve their problems. If you’d like more information on improving your business development plans, watch our free on demand webinar, How Lawyers Can Refresh Their Business Development Plans for 2021