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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

Why Lawyers May Finally Be Seeing The Light When It Comes To Connecting With Clients

by Paramjit L. Mahli

I've often thought about what an entrepreneur is, especially since I ended up being one! Are entrepreneurs a greedy capitalist lot who don't wish to play by anyone else's rules? Or, are they highly creative people who have a fundamental understanding that we are ALL connected? That life is about relationships, whether you’re connected with the cashier at Gristedes or talking to some ultra-urban sophisticate. Now, since I'm in the legal world and lawyers are a breed of people who primarily see, feel and comprehend “just the facts, ma'am,” this has been a question that has been plaguing me for a while. Well, some interesting things happened a couple of  weeks ago,  all within the space of 24 hours, which have given me great hope for lawyers.

A friend of mine, Maricar Tinio with Lateral Link, put together a phenomenal CLE at DLA Piper—“Managing Legal Costs in an Economic Downturn.” The panelists were absolutely top-notch. Although my schedule was a bit bonkers, I wanted to show support for my friend. I showed up, telling her right up front that I would only be around for about 30 minutes. To complicate things, I had my own CLE to give on “3 Ways How Public Relations Can Grow Your Law Practice” for the New York County Lawyers’ Association’s two-day conference titled Bridging the Gap for Newly Admitted Lawyers, which needed tightening on structure otherwise, I would end up on some inter galactic tangent!

Much to my amazement, three hours later I was still at DLA Piper.

Jonathan Olefson of Cognizant Technology Solutions, one of the panelists, remarked during the CLE that he wants law firms—to which his company sends millions of dollars’ worth of work—to “connect” with him, or in his terms, “talk to him.” After the session I had the opportunity to talk with him and asked him specifics of what he meant. He explained, that since Cognizant was a global company, he was working with lawyers throughout various jurisdictions in the world. The company worked with many firms, including a solo lawyer based in England to whom  Cognizant has sent lots of work. He said, the professional relationship with this lawyer is fast developing into a personal one. Jonathan gave me several other examples of other young lawyers in very small firms who have managed to get more legal work from his company because they have become partners and they use technology to the maximum.

I returned home to change the introduction of my  CLE presentation the following morning, incorporating some of my findings. 

My CLE panel went very well, the audience consisting of nearly 100 nearly minted lawyers, some thinking of starting their own practice, others  acting as  Morlocks for the time being and doing document review work in the deep, dark tunnels of big law, others working as associates. They were very receptive, although by looking at them from the podium I couldn’t tell. But judging by all my business cards disappearing and that I was still doing question-and-answer after 90 minutes of talking, I assumed all was well.

What really encouraged me was how several of them were beginning to see the light. They were beginning to grasp that what separates them from their so-called competition is how they handled their client work: everything from the client’s first call to billing, thank-you cards, connecting about kids watching the latest crap on television, and talking about the latest Prada shoes! The conversation then drifted into community and the lack of like-minded people, since they were not trained to think in this “new” way.

Of course, no CLE would be complete without some smart-ass arse young, handsome lawyer asking, “Well, with all due respect, you’re giving us and referring us to other sites and teleseminars. What about your services and how are you making money?”

For what seemed like an eternity, I blanked out, then my mother popped into my head and the word “sever.” Loosely translated, it means serving others, and that was what I was doing, as were these young lawyers who were helping their clients, and I knew the impact it was having in our world. Yes, on a practical level all 80 business cards disappeared; I have no idea what will result from that. But I do know for certain  that the service I provided to these CLE participants will boomerang to me in a positive way. In our fast-paced modern world where much of our thinking, particularly in the legal world, is “you eat what you kill,” there needs to be a shift in our thinking, and these young people gave me great hope that all is well and, more importantly, life—personal and business—is all about connecting.

This article originally appeared in May 05, 2009 in Profiting With Public Relations.


About The Author

Paramjit L. Mahli of the Sun Communications Group is a former journalist who has worked with international news organizations including CNN Business News, and now helps small to mid-sized law firms increase their visibility, build their reputation and helps them grow their business by using public relations. She also developed popular tele-seminar class, "How To Grow Your Law Practice On A Shoestring Budget".


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.


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