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Know your client's business

I was giving a seminar to a group of IT lawyers within a prominent firm when—as a former IT lawyer myself—I began discussing some business development strategies allowing such lawyers to involve themselves more, both within the industry and within their own client base. Shockingly, it became clear to me that most of these lawyers were very adept at the “law” but quite clueless about IT and the business of technology. I couldn’t help comparing their attitude to mine, when I was in their position.

Back then I was absorbed in the technology industry (OK, I admit I’m not anymore!) I attended their conferences, read their journals, and was up to date on the latest news.

It should be abundantly clear that your clients expect you to understand their company and their industry. The inference is just as obvious: Read what your clients read, go to their meetings, visit their offices, and learn to see their problems before they do. This will give you the edge over your competitors, and add the sought-after unique value.

The best way to provide unique value to your clients is to give them notice of how they can avoid legal problems (ideally, before they even KNOW there is a problem) or, EVEN BETTER, create opportunities for them.

You can’t do that by only knowing the relevant law—no matter how brilliant you might be!

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