Being Client Savvy

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Being Client Savvy

My friend is General Counsel at a major Canadian conglomerate and prime-decision maker of who gets his company’s legal work.

Imagine his annoyance when a senior partner from a big-name law firm asked for a meeting and during the visit, talked non-stop about his credentials, yammered on about his firm, admired my friend’s office, and ended their time together by asking to receive some files.

During what amounted to a monologue that was all about him, no questions were asked about the GC’s business, concerns, industry – nothing.

My friend being a nice guy didn’t say what he was thinking, which was “What have you got for me?” And, being a super-nice guy, escorted the partner to the door with grace and a parting handshake when he could have run him out on a rail.

Contrast that experience with a scene I observed a few years ago in a coffee shop where two gentlemen were engaged in conversation.

The one wearing a suit was doing most of the talking while the one in shirtsleeves was observing, asking questions and jotting answers into a notebook. I don’t know who the “suit” was, but “shirtsleeves” was and still is CEO of one this country’s largest national law firms.

Careful listening, confirming understanding and taking notes are only a few of the brand traits for which this CEO is known. But demonstrating attention and concern are among the reasons why he has been a successful lawyer for many years, and hugely popular among his clients and peers.

Same situation. Similar exercise. Different outcome.

Being client savvy means the focus is always on them – never on you.


Heather Suttie is an internationally recognized legal marketing and business development consultant. She works with law firms, law companies and lawyers — Global to Solo — BigLaw to NewLaw — helping them thrive in the evolving legal industry by claiming a distinctive position and sustained competitive advantage resulting in greater market share, revenue and profits. Reach her at +1.416.964.9607 or

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