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Being Client Savvy

Why your focus must be on your client and never on you.

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 acknowledged as one of the world’s leading authorities on legal market strategy and management of legal services firms.

For 25 years, she has advised leaders of premier law firms and legal service providers worldwide — Global to Solo | BigLaw to NewLaw — on innovative strategies pertaining to business, markets, management, and clients.

The result is accelerated performance achieved through a distinctive one of one legal market position and sustained competitive advantage leading to greater market share, revenue, and profits.

The effect is accomplishment of the prime objective — To Win.

Reach her at +1.416.964.9607 or

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