Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at May 8, 2006 03:06 PM
"[t]he demand to meet new billing goals has led patent prosecutors to pressure clients for more work."
Interesting article in the most recent IP Law & Practice. Entitled "A House Divided Cannot Merge” (copy not (yet?) available on-line), the article starts out talking about a failed merger between two big IP firms, and then transitions into a discussion of the high billing goals that many patent prosecutors are having a hard time meeting. Apparently, “[t]he demand to meet new billing goals has led patent prosecutors to pressure clients for more work.” Yikes.
Such a strategy, where a large client who doesn’t feel they have any other patent counsel options (believing that there are no other patent firms having enough capacity to take on their work) is pressured to produce more work or else (we’ll withdraw) is sure to back-fire.
One solution (for large firms) to achieve the same goal (get more work) would be to help your client help itself. I know it is a controversial thought, but rather than pull out a club, why not try rolling up your sleeves? It takes a little thinking outside the box, but can be done.
For instance, hire someone like frequent Rethink(IP) contributor Bill Meade’s BasicIP…a company who’s entire purpose is working with patent attorneys and their clients to increase patent disclosures, trade secret programs and inventor incentives. I like to think of them as invention disclosure commandos.
Personally, I think that helping your clients better protect their IP, rather than threatening them into producing more, is a better option.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at November 24, 2005 12:02 PM
I really hope that the young associate who writes the BigLaw Associate is real and not some pseudo-writing experiment like Anonymous Lawyer. The posts over at BigLaw crack me up and hopefully offer some unintentional glimpses into some biglaw practices.
For example, BigLaw’s newest post is entitled “A New Plan” and is the most recent in a series of angst ridden posts dealing with whether he/she/it/they should leave the biglaw firm where they are currently employed.
The whole post is interesting for the fact that he/she/it/they have finally succombed to the fact that they will never leave biglaw and he/she/it/they are justifying the reason for not leaving (although, look back a few posts for what I believe are the real reasons – money, awe from peers, and “biglaw prestige”)
What I found most striking in the post is this statement regarding the senior attorney she is assigned to:
… I have come to the conclusion that perhaps my problem is not the Firm, but Senior (and myself to a large extent). We have a totally dysfunctional working relationship. Senior is a rainmaker and knows how to keep his clients happy; not so much with quality work (although he is undeniably VERY smart), as with backslapping, belly laughing locker room humour.
What? Say again? Hello?
I don’t think my definition of rainmaker would/should/could be modified with the statement “not so much [because] of quality work”… I wonder if their clients feel the same way.
Where I come from (all at once … “Oooooooook – la – homa, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain….” [MP3]), modifying the term rainmaker in such a manner results in that person simply being a bullshitter – someone with a good handshake but nothing of any worth to the client.
Is this the definition of rainmaker that biglaw is teaching its associates and, if so, is it any wonder why clients are demanding change in how legal services are to be delivered? What happened to client service, attention to detail, quality work and delivery of innovative, helpful and useful counsel?
If this is the trend – maybe instead of Chief Marketing Officers at biglaw, they should just hire Chief Bullshitters. It would certainly be easier for recruiters to find them — you don’t really need any particular qualifications and if it is big enough of a trend, some enterprising CLE provider will start teaching “Chief Bullshitter Bootcamps” for the forward thinking law office.
I really hope BigLaw Associate is for real… it bodes well for us “little guys”, I think.
Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at November 2, 2005 10:31 AM
Insourcing is one of the main reasons Matt, Doug and I were drawn together almost a year ago. It was a conversation about how to work together to promote the insourcing of patent services to inland patent firms instead of outsourcing them abroad that started this great rethinking project. We've clearly gone beyond insourcing a major Rethink(IP) theme, but that topic is still close to our hearts.
In reviewing my client base recently I noticed something I hadn't seen before (and I'm sure my fellow rethinkers see too in their own practices), namely that the amount of work we are doing for foreign patent and trademark firms has substantially increased in the past few years. Substantially. Maybe The World is Flat has just opened my eyes more to the impact of technology and the Internet on my practice.
I'm not sure whether they are ditching their big city firms and insourcing to the Intermountain West and/or Midwest for customer service, for price, or for other reasons, but it is clearly happening. What amazes me is how quickly foreign IP attorneys get it, but US businesses as a whole don't.
Foreign IP work has traditionally been "quid pro quo," in that "if you send me work, I'll send you work." Perhaps it is due to the low performance of the US dollar or perhaps other factors, but the reality is that having IP work done in the US is as expensive as ever. In my opinion, this is a fact which is causing some foreign IP firms to consider other cost effective ways of protecting their client's intellectual property in the States, and one of those ways is insourcing. The result is that foreign firms are sending lots and lots of work to smaller firms in smaller metropolitan areas, firms that can't possibly support the old school quid pro quo.
Is it the end of "tit for tat" in IP work? I doubt it, but it is sure to have ripples in the market for worldwide IP services.
Other thoughts, insight and comments appreciated (the comments are open)...
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at October 29, 2005 02:54 PM
Maybe it is just my city. Or maybe it is just me, finally noticing something that has been happening all along. But it looks to me like BigLaw is in a deepening crisis. When I speak to other BigLaw associates from around town I keep hearing the same story: associate morale at a critical low with associates leaving at an alarming rate. Not alarming for me, of course: I personally don't care. But, it should be alarming to partners because associates are leaving when they are finally getting good at their jobs, and when the firms' investment in them should start to pay off.
When will the general public and members of the legal profession look at individuals in BigLaw the same way they look at those smokers in the glass cages at the airport?You know that look -- sadness, bemusement and pity.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at September 23, 2005 10:40 PM
How does Trader Joe's define itself? A former vice president of operations for the chain put it this way: "It's a mix of supermarket, grocery store, and international gourmet shop with wholesale club pricing." Industry analysts and various other retail experts generally classify Trader Joe's as a specialty retailer or niche marketer. But which niche? Basically, the chain's simple but brilliant marketing strategy is to take a little from each concept and offer great products at fantastic prices. There really are no complex marketing strategies--just good solid execution based on giving consumers something different.
What do you do differently? How do you make a difference to your clients? What about your firm's story - what makes it different from every other?
Who are your clients? Who are your best clients?
When I work with new clients, I often encounter the following request: I want more clients. My response is a question: What kind of clients do you want? The (wrong) answer I most often get: It doesnt matter as long as they have money, we get a little bit of everyone in here.The right answer takes a little more thought.When you really get to know your clients, you will find a small percentage account for most of your profits. In fact, it is common for less than 20% of your clients to account for nearly all of your profits. The big problem? Most businesses have no idea who those perfect clients are!
Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at September 14, 2005 12:51 PM
If you enjoy Rethink(IP)...you'll enjoy this article from the current (August 2005) IP Today: LITIGATORS CORNER: Who Says Contingent Fee Lawyers Are the Biggest Moneymakers? [PDF]
No wonder large companies think litigation is too expensive. Their own need to hire big firms, coupled with runaway legal fees, is the largest part of their problem. A defendant that shoots itself in the foot shouldnt blame someone else for its own stupidity. Their corporate mentality, which equates size and expense to quality, is the main cause.
Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at September 1, 2005 05:51 AM
I should have known something was up Tuesday night. As I drove by the local Texaco station I saw an SUV owner pumping gas. An SUV owner pumping gas isn't a new thing to me...what caught my eye was how he had his foot on the running board and was rocking his SUV side to side, apparently working every last air bubble out of his gas tank so he could get four or five extra ounces of gas into the tank.
I'm sure he must be a partner at a law firm we litigated against one time. The case was all but over (his client got whipped pretty good on a case that should have never been filed), yet he kept filing new pleadings, making pointless phone calls, sending more discovery requests, etc. All that to get every last ounce into his tank.
Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at July 5, 2005 12:51 AM
I recently received a phone call from an examining attorney for one of the trademark applications one of my clients had filed. Typically, getting a phone call from an examining attorney (trademark) or examiner (patent) is a good sign. They don't call (usually) to give you bad news, but to take care of matters which can be resolved via a phone call. In example, an examiner might call you to say "all of the claims are allowable, but there is a typo in claim 2, do you mind if I enter an examiner's amendment fixing it?" The alternative is that the examining attorney/examiner will have to send you a formal office action, thereby requiring a formal response ($$).
Back to the phone call. After discussing the trivial change needed to obtain allowance, I thanked the examining attorney for the call, noting that I appreciated it because it saved my client money (because he didn't have to pay me to prepare a formal Response to enter a trivial change). The examining attorney was flabbergasted...as if she'd never heard of such a thing before.
She lamented that she was sick and tired of attorneys who would be mad if she called asking for permission to enter an examining attorney's amendment, attorneys demanding a formal office action (rather than dealing with simple procedural matters over the phone.) She then relayed a story...a story of an attorney who once called her to read (really slow) aloud the Response he had mailed a couple of days earlier. The same Response that she had sitting on her desk in front of her (well...eventually she'd have it in front of her). "I know how to read," she said.
Why do some attorneys do this?
Minimum billable hour requirements. Aren't they dandy?
Thoughts on the growth of the Middle Coast for legal services - its more than just our lack of rosewood conference tables
Posted by J Matthew Buchanan at May 25, 2005 10:17 AM
The firms in the “middle coast” are expanding to fulfill a real need: client driven legal services, alternative billing and compensation systems, sanity concerning the number of billable hours required, and service.
Companies are no longer willing to pay sky-high rates in order to subsidize $100+ per square foot office space rates, unsustainable associate salaries and rosewood conference tables.
Is that good stuff, or what?
Doug’s post made me think a little deeper about the “middle coast” concept.
Why is the middle coast growing as a destination for legal services work?
I can at least offer a theory as it relates to patent work.
The new expertise has landed in Toledo…and Oklahoma City, and Boise…and Anytown, USA.
Corporate counsel continue to get hammered on legal expenses. For patent work, India is an option but most corporate counsel that are in a position to consider it are worried about the quality of the craftsmanship. They’ve been through a patent litigation or two (or twenty) and understand the importance of quality craftsmanship.
The hammering continues, so they slowly look for other options.
And there we are, right in the middle….offering the best of both worlds:
lower expenses (ask — you’ll be amazed!) with the same level of expertise.
I’m willing to guess that the difference in expenses has probably always existed. But, I think the expertise issue has changed dramatically over the last decade or so. I’m not referring to expertise in substantive patent law and practice — small firms in the middle coast have always had a high level of legal expertise. No, I’m talking about technical expertise.
In the past, technical expertise meant engineers. Lots of engineers. And physicists. Middle coasters had access to these people and therefore had the technical expertise that allowed them to compete. But, in the last 30 to 40 years, the requirements for technical expertise have changed. Now, patent firms must offer skills in biology, chemistry, computer science, and other developing fields — the new expertise.
Over the last several decades, big firms seemingly had a lock on this new expertise. They gobbled up newly minted lawyer-PhD's in all of these new fields. They took their push for the new expertise even further by hiring squads of non-lawyer PhD’s and resurrecting patent agent practice in the process. For awhile, the middle coasters couldn’t compete…geography, money, culture and many more criteria heavily favored the big city.
But that’s changing.
All of a sudden, experts in these new fields are staying in the middle coast. For some, the middle coast is home, making it an easy decision. For all, its a different way of life — the sanity Doug mentioned in his post. Have you heard? We’ve got PhD microbiologists in Toledo now (and I’m not just talking about my wife!). Doug has ‘em in Oklahoma for crying out loud. That’s a little tongue-in-cheek, of course, but the point is that big cities — and big firms — no longer have a lock on the new expertise.
This changes everything. All of a sudden, when big city and middle coast firms are compared, the spotlight shines almost exclusively on expenses, which is where we really shine.
There is another feature that attracts companies to large firms (which are typically big city firms) — raw capacity. You want 35 associates to handle your patent prosecution needs? There’s a big firm or two (or twenty) that can do that. In fact, they’ll make sure those associates start on it tomorrow evening.
None of our firms, individually, can do that.
But our network can.
Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at May 22, 2005 09:26 PM
Counting hours has absolutely NOTHING to do with serving the client, and EVERYTHING to do with serving the firm.How true is that?
Posted by J Matthew Buchanan at May 13, 2005 09:27 AM
Do you hesitate to call your patent attorney to update him on something on fear of getting a bill for 0.3 hours? Why does Dick Vitale’s voice permeate my head whenever I think of this problem?
“You just got 0.3’d baby!”
I bet Dickie V would look for patent counsel who doesn’t like to shoot the ‘trey so often.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at May 11, 2005 05:28 PM
If you are a general counsel or other purveyor of legal services and you want to know why you get billed 2 hours for something that should take 15 minutes, have a look at this calculator.
Ask your firm what the billable hour requirement is for their associates, add 200 hours to that number (what associates really need to get their bonuses), assume they get to work at 8am, with an hour lunch, three weeks vacation and no holidays. Then assume they can’t bill 1–2 hours per day. Hit calculate.
Scary isn’t it.
My questions: Why would (1) anyone want to work in such a situation and (2) why would anyone want to hire a firm or lawyer who works in such a manner?
Posted by J Matthew Buchanan at May 10, 2005 10:56 AM
Yesterday, as I was feeding my addiction to business and legal news by listening to CNBC via XM radio in the car, I caught an interview with the Small Business Editor at the Wall Street Journal. It was a little piece of business “fluff,” but, for me, it was quite revealing. The piece included a discussion on the early steps entrepreneurs should take to advance their “Big Idea” toward a successful business.
Where should entrepreneurs turn for help with the basics of starting a business, asked the host. Not surprisingly, the guest did not mention patent attorneys.
This is when it hit me: Most patent attorneys do not use their position to help entrepreneurs in the early stages of getting the Big Idea off the ground.
As patent attorneys, entrepreneurs often come to us early in the process. We provide a variety of valuable services, such as conducting patentability searches and infringement analyses, drafting and filing patent applications, and helping people with the patent/trade secret decision.
But, as a group, we do not provide entrepreneurs with needed help in getting their business off the ground…in helping them define and take the “Next Step.” I don’t intend for us to form businesses and draft operating agreements – that’s not our realm. I’m speaking in more general terms, such as making connections with accountants, making introductions to other entrepreneurs, helping them locate office space, lab space, etc.
I’m proud to say that my firm routinely conducts these services for people (and I know the other rethinkers do the same). Recently, I made a connection between the university where I did my graduate work and a client who needed lab space. A relationship was formed, but no lab space was offered. So I took it a step further and worked with the local economic development group. Two months later, my client has lab space in a university building and is working on his Big Idea instead of worrying about finding lab space.
An aside: All the time I spent making the connections (probably several hours) — non-billable. Therein lies the answer to the question of why most big firms frown on these “needy” clients and avoid them to the best of their abilities (high “new client” retainers usually do the trick).
The reason my firm does it is simple. Its a one word (man) answer, as a matter of fact. Fraser. Our senior partner, Don Fraser, has practiced patent law for over 50 years, as did his father before him. His perspective on the practice is that patent attorneys are uniquely positioned to really help the entrepreneurs of this country. Writing patent applications that cover their invention is only a small part of what we can, and should, do for them. Entrepreneurism, as Don likes to say, is a limited resource that must be prized and cared-for properly. It is our responsibility to help in the care for that resource.
Big firms won’t provide these services (some general practice firms may, if the intellectual property partner can refer the “business” matters to a business partner and the time can be billed). This creates an opportunity for the smaller firms of the world.
Sacrifice some billable time and go hug an entrepreneur today!
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at May 8, 2005 11:36 AM
The Strategic Legal Technology Blog has an interesting post highlighting a comment from a reader on the issue of business development (BD) within a large law firm. The quote below is from the reader:
I spent a number of years in-house with a large financial institution. The focus on market analysis there was huge, analyzing customer segments, determining customer profitability, setting profitability targets, defining strategies for dealing with customers who didn’t meet those targets, etc.
One thing that continues to amaze me about my large law firm (and I suspect that it is not a lot different elsewhere) is the seeming disregard for all sorts of basic business development approaches. It’s as if the lawyers say, “Well, BD means either (1) take the client to a sports event, (2) host an internal CLE event, or (3) speak at some conference, and there is nothing else that I could possibly do to develop business.
They don’t start with the basic cross-selling of their own capabilities to their colleagues, they don’t focus on providing real value to their clients (because a lot of it would involve the investment of non-billable time that the firm doesn’t recognize, even if it pays off exponentially later), and they don’t analyze what they do right (and what the they do wrong!) to determine what things to emphasize (or ditch). And yet these are all intelligent people.
It continues to mystify me (although I believe that the emphasis on the billable hour works to discourage any such activities).
That darn billable hour again – it just keeps coming up as a deterrent to providing innovative and inquisitive legal services to clients. You could insert the “embedded patent attorney” (EPA) concept into that quote quite nicely and the same conclusions would apply. In most firms there is no incentive from a billable perspective or from a firm management perspective to become “embedded” in the client’s business.
Wouldn’t it be fun to have a Chief Embeddedness Officer (hmmm… CEO) around.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at April 25, 2005 07:47 PM
One of Matt’s posts was about becoming a “client in order to become a visionary” with the main premise being that lawyers don’t often go out and use legal services, so we don’t see “it” from the point of view of the client. Matt suggests going to the best attorney in town who has the worst client service reputation and see how you are treated.
Interesting experiment – I will be curious to see if anyone takes the challenge and the outcome.
I don’t think most lawyers would learn anything from the experience, however. Why? I don’t believe that most lawyers would be able to apply the experience to their own circumstances.
Think about it for a moment – we are deluged daily with bad service experiences. For every bad lawyer client service cliche there is one from your daily life:
- A receptionist who puts people on hold: the gum chewing young woman who ignores you while talking on the phone to her boyfriend.
- Not returning a client’s phone call: the doctor who waited three days to call you back with the results of your test results.
- Unexpected bills/surcharges: the cellphone bill, the mechanics bill, the building contractor (this list is endless).
While it would be convenient to explain away poor client service on the basis of the lawyer never being in the shoes of a client, there are more than enough examples in our day to day lives that we should be able to draw upon.
The problem is, lawyers tend not to borrow from outside experiences. For example, we don’t tend to read outside our comfort zone nor do we apply the experiences we have gained in our day to day lives to the problems confronting our cleints. Not really all that much different than the doctor who makes you wait for 90 minutes in an examination room by yourself. How would that doctor react if his lawyer made him wait 90 minutes with no explanation?
So, instead of being a client – why not simply make a list of service providers you hate, loathe, despise or abhor and then detail what they have done to make it on the list.
And then do the opposite.
Posted by J Matthew Buchanan at April 18, 2005 11:28 AM
…or at least don’t pay them as much as you used to.
Here’s a rethinker’s tip that can really save money on the patent prosecution process, especially for mid-sized companies with growing portfolios.
The Patent and Trademark Office’s Electronic Patent Assignment System (EPAS) is, I think, a real hidden gem. It stands in stark contrast to the fledgling system for filing patent applications electronically in that its easy, user-friendly, and completely web-based. Surprisingly, not many patent attorneys are using it.
EPAS provides a tool to efficiently handle a small component of prosecution – recordation of assignments. Incorporate EPAS into your attorney’s workflow, and you’ll save money.
Consider the “old way” of recording a patent assignment:
The patent attorney would prepare an assignment (a form agreement), send it to the client for execution by the inventor(s) (with a form letter), receive and review the executed assignment, file the assignment with a recordation cover sheet, send the client a form letter informing them that the assignment had been submitted for recordal, receive and review the recordation information from the patent office (often months later), and send the client a form letter with the recordation information (usually returning the original assignment).
There’s probably about 1.25 to 1.5 hours billed to the client for that service. What did the client get for its money? A series of form letters and information-shifting from the patent office to the client. The attorney did not really add any legal expertise.
Here’s the rethinker’s way of recording a patent assignment:
Train the client to use EPAS.
This really makes sense for mid-sized businesses with growing patent portfolios. If a company files 30 applications in a year and does all of its own EPAS filings, this produces a savings of about 45 hours of attorney time. If you apply an average billing rate of $225/hour, that’s a savings of $9000/year. What could you do with an extra $9000? You could probably file another patent application (or two). I’m betting that would make the business folks happy.
Just think of the savings that could be realized for companies that file 100 or more applications each and every year.
But what if you don’t have the resources (or willingness) to handle EPAS filings? Well, now its time to see if your patent attorney is a rethinker. Ask if they can follow this process for recording assignments:
Prepare a form assignment that can be customized for each and every application; have a paralegal review executed assignments, submit assignments for recordation through EPAS, and forward the recordation information once received (typically the next business day).
Using this approach, the amount of time spent by the attorney’s firm for recording each assignment drops to about 0.8 to 1.0 hours of paralegal time. With 30 applications per year, a savings of about $6000 should be easy to attain.
EPAS offers the side benefit of faster processing by the patent office, too. The EPAS system consistently provides recordation information in about a day.
No matter the approach you adopt, EPAS will save money. Wouldn’t it be nice if your patent attorney suggested the use of EPAS?
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at April 12, 2005 12:20 AM
Jim Logan over at the JSLogan blog is on a roll . Jim continues his great posts on the shackles of the billable hour with a post entitled “The Bane of the Billable Hour, Don’t Miss the Next Great Opportunity.”
I'm more convinced than ever the next great opportunity in professional services is value-based billing. In my own business, we don't bill for time - never have, never will - and the results are impressive, both for us and our clients. Billing customers based on results, defined from their business purpose, is a Win-Win business proposition that creates fierce customer loyalty and ultimately more revenue for both the customer and consultant. Once your combined goals are aligned, the opportunity for mutual success increases.
Good luck with the book Jim – we will be looking forward to you and Richard’s further insights.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at April 11, 2005 12:26 AM
When your services are a commodity – everyone treats them like a commodity.
For example, if you take the “relationship” out of the legal services equation what are you left with?
Simply put - commodity.
The attorney loses, the process loses and, most importantly, the client loses.
Update: I missed it earlier, but the Patent Baristas have also weighed in on this topic in an excellent post.
Posted by Douglas Sorocco at April 10, 2005 05:20 PM
Is your IP attorney stuck in the sand?
You know the type – always too busy to return your call. Always too busy to sit down with your technical staff and explain legal principles and concepts in an understandable manner. Always too busy to stop by the lab or manufacturing plant to see what is new. Always too busy.
Always – just – too – busy.
This attorney is stuck in the sand – the metaphorical sand of the billable hour. It can be the billable requirement that their firm imposes on them (I just heard the other day that it is creeping up to 2300 hour mark in the Philadelphia area) or it may be the strict adherence to the billable hour model of charging for services.
However it is being used – the billable hour is the sand keeping the attorney from truly integrating themselves into your business or technology. Putting in the extra “non-billable” time isn’t valued by the attorney because it isn’t valued by their firm. Therefore, they are always “too busy” to do the other things that nurture and foster a relationship focused on the well-being of the client and their business.
It isn’t valued anywhere in the legal revenue generation food chain.
An example: patent drafting and prosecution is extremely susceptible to alternative billing models – but many patent attorneys don’t offer them. Oh, they may say that they do by offering to prepare and file the application for a “fixed fee”.
The truth — they are still gauging the fee on billable hour methodologies. They are determining the number of hours it will take – let’s say 40 – and multiplying that by their billable rate – let’s say $200 – and coming up with an “alternative” – i.e. I will prep this application for you for $8,000. The client walks away thinking that they just got a “deal” and that the attorney will be working harder for them because, Afterall, the attorney is willing to be flexible and learn about the business.
See the shell game? The patent attorney is stuck in the sand – they can’t get away from the billable hour even when determining an “alternative” fee. They just “presold” the client a specific number of hours of their time. The attorney has even less incentive to spend extra time with the client now – not more.
So – the next time your patent attorney offers you a flat fee arrangement, find out their hourly rate first. They are your hours – you might as well figure out how many you actually bought.
The image is from the The Social Customer Manifesto blog – one to read, if you know what I mean.
One comment from LexThink has stayed with me (haunted me) the entire past week.
The story I overheard went something like this:
After setting up my company, I sat down with my lawyer and asked him to walk me through what I should be looking for problem-wise in the future. My lawyer’s response: “don’t worry about it, if you have any problems just give me a call. It would cost you too much for us to sit and discuss possible future issues.”
This is just so wrong on so many levels:
The lawyer is patronizing the client – they would have been much more honest by just saying “Now don’t you worry your little fuzzy wuzzy little head – I will take care of all the bad boogey men for you.”
The laywer was not invested in the client. The lawyer heard “talk to me” and shot out of his mouth “it will cost you”. The concept of investing in the client didn’t even pass through their mind.
Intellectual property is a complex area of the law – I could never bill for every explanatory conversation I had with a client. Part of my ethical duty as a lawyer is to take the time to explain the issues in a manner that any client can comprehend and use as the basis for decision making. If the client doesn’t understand an issue – it is my problem, not the client’s. It is my obligation to make it clear and I have to spend as much time as it takes.
I could view this time spent as wasted or I can view it as an investment in my client.
I choose to see it as an investment.
I choose to empower my clients to act in the face of a problem – prior to calling me.
I am investing in their business, their enterprise and their knowledge. As the Legal Marketing Blog says, you gotta Take the Time to Have Meaningful, Nonbillable Conversations with Clients.