General Counsel: “Lawyers, Know My Business”

by Nancy Myrland

General Counsel: Lawyers, Know My BusinessEven though the rapid-fire GC Panel at last week’s LSSO Raindance Conference was filled with pages full of suggestions (some of the one-liners were priceless), there were a few recurring themes I can’t get out of my head.

We’ll start with just one of those themes today, but I will tackle more in the coming days.

If you look below, you can see a few Tweets I shared as I listened to our panel.

Not that I haven’t already given it away in my title and the graphic to your right, but watch for the theme.

If you see abbreviations, please remember we are limited to 140 characters on Twitter. It’s not always easy, but it can be done!

Nancy Myrland @NancyMyrland Follow

GC Panel at : Quickest way to find out if the lawyer understands my business. When they use buzzwords, I ask them questions abt it.

This was a very interesting comment because it implied lawyers are coming in and winging it as far as having sufficient knowledge to talk to GC about their specific industry. When the GC who said this suspects this is going on, and hears buzzwords he thinks might have been canned just for the sales presentation, he engages them in a little Q & A to uncover whether the knowledge is real.

It’s actually quite sad this has to be done. For a potential client to suspect you’re making things up just to look good while trying to win business, and to then try to catch you in the act, is not a professional setting or situation you should find yourself in, is it? The good news is that this is avoidable. 

Nancy Myrland @NancyMyrland Follow

GC Panel at : Know your audience. If I work for Pepsi, don't take me to a restaurant and order a Coke.

During my in-house legal marketing days, we had the water company as a client. That was the end of bottled water in the firm…period. We respected our client and their work enough to get rid of a product that was at odds with the profitability of their business.

Think through every action with clients and potential clients. Sweat the small stuff. Stay away from competitive products. Clients notice. This is their lifeblood. Would you want your client taking you to lunch at your competitor’s office?

These next two go together.

Nancy Myrland @NancyMyrland Follow

GC Panel at : Make sure industry-specific experience is on your profile.

Nancy Myrland @NancyMyrland Follow

GC Panel at : Be upfront with us about what you can do well, and what you can't do, and how you will fill that gap.

This goes without saying. If you want to win someone’s business, you must demonstrate why you are different than your competition. Give specific examples that demonstrate your leadership in their industry. Tell them what you did that demonstrates your proficiency in handling matters that are important to them. As you can see from the 2nd Tweet, if you don’t have that experience, be upfront and tell them how you will fill that gap. Honesty is always preferred.

Immerse yourself in their industry. As soon as you know you will be talking to them about winning their business, use your internal and/or external business development and competitive intelligence resources to take a deep dive into their industry. You will amaze yourself how much you can learn in a very short period of time, as well as how many resources you will uncover that you can commit to studying on your client’s behalf.


  1. Know your potential client’s business.
  2. Don’t use keywords if you aren’t that familiar with them. They will figure you out.
  3. Sweat the small stuff when it comes to winning business.
  4. Stay away from competitive products and locations, unless it’s for you to study them BEFORE you meet with your client.
  5. Demonstrate your leadership in their line of work.
  6. Be upfront. If you don’t have the experience in an area they need, tell them, then show them how you will fill the gap.
  7. Use your internal and external Business Development and Competitive Intelligence resources to get up to speed as soon as possible, and to uncover every little detail you might need to help your client think through their situation.

What else would you add to this discussion, or to these key takeaways?

Stay tuned for more observations from the conference!

In the mean time, you can view all of the LiveTweets from the #LSSO14 conference here in this summary.

Written by:

Nancy Myrland

Myrland Marketing & Social Media on:

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