Empowering Clients Through the Changing Business of Law

March 22, 2021, 8:00 AM

If the past year has taught us anything, it is that agile and innovative organizations are best positioned to overcome unforeseen obstacles. Is your firm doing everything it can to make this a reality for your clients?

At Goodwin, we believe that the work that we do for our clients extends well beyond providing legal advice because client development is so much more than timely and excellent legal counsel—it is aligning your operations with the needs of your clients to make sure they are always in an advantageous position.

As trusted advisers to clients, law firms are, of course, relied upon to navigate legal hurdles—the practice of law. But we must also provide services and share knowledge that can allow clients not only to stay in lockstep with their industries, but to stay ahead of the curve, that is, the business of law.

Our global operations team—or GO! Team for short—is at the heart of this strategy. With client development acting as a complement to traditional marketing, communications, and brand-building activities, our aim is to extend every facet of our firm’s expertise to our clients to accelerate their development. To achieve this, we looked inward and identified areas of overlap where our firm can assist our clients.

We partnered our GO! Team with our clients’ operational counterparts and created a cohesive blend of legal operations expertise with an intimate understanding of clients’ needs. Our program management office and knowledge management team provide Goodwin resources to our clients to evaluate and prioritize projects and manage database implementation and design, respectively.

The following are some lessons we learned that can guide other law firms in their quest to better serve clients.

Powering Growth Through Feedback

As the pace of business quickens, law firms must do everything they can to accelerate clients’ development and growth. Whether they are in the startup phase or launching new products and services, companies rely on feedback from costly focus groups to refine their offerings and bring them to market. We leveraged our firm expertise to help propel them forward.

When clients are in early funding rounds, it is immensely important to support them in every possible way, and one of the best ways to do that is to impart your organizational knowledge and insights to them so they have every chance to succeed.

Streamlining Vetting

In addition to helping shape products, we also help clients vet new technologies by sharing our experiences working with various vendors and evaluating technologies. Assessing new products and selecting a new technology vendor can be costly and time consuming, so why not use existing knowledge of working with vendors to benefit clients?

By keeping clients in mind and providing honest feedback, we saved time and money for clients while demonstrating dedication, commitment, and a true understanding of their business needs.

Fostering Change

We believe that to go far, we must all go together. That is why we partner with our clients across diversity, equity, and inclusion, and pro bono efforts. The role our organizations play in driving societal change has never been more critical. For example, our DEI team recently advised a privately held investment firm on its women’s initiative and ways to serve its diverse workforce during the prolonged work-from-home period.

In addition to advising on DEI matters, we believe that some of the most impactful work we can do with our clients is through pro bono partnerships. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, our firm has partnered with more than 75 in-house counsel and professionals from 18 corporate legal departments to support a series of legal clinics designed to address the critical needs of individuals and families in the communities in which we live and work.

When your firm and your client’s legal department work on initiatives that usher in change or assist those in need, you not only strengthen the relationship between organizations—you forge a greater bond with your community.

Whether it is communications initiatives, technology recommendations, project management suggestions, or cultural change, our duty to clients stretches well beyond the walls of the courtroom or boardroom. By acting as a conduit to share knowledge and resources between you and your clients, your business operations staff will accelerate your clients’ development, and, in turn, your business of law platform will flourish.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. or its owners.

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Author Information

Michael Caplan is chief operating officer of Goodwin and a member of the firm’s management committee. He previously served as global chief operating officer for the legal departments at Marsh & McLennan Companies and Goldman Sachs.

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