At last year’s Marketing Partner Forum in Phoenix, I attended a panel of General Counsel telling the lawyers and marketers in attendance what they looked for in their lawyers. I swear to you that every audience question (other than the final one) was some flavor of:
How should a lawyer you don’t know start a relationship with you?
- By e-mail?
- In a letter?
- Over the phone?
- Set up a breakfast?
- Via social media?
- Offer to put on a CLE?
- Sign you up for client alerts?
I was able to ask the final question of the session, and it had at least one of the corporate counsel momentarily flabbergasted.
I said, “Every question that’s been asked today assumes we live in this narrow world where the only methodology for getting business is to pitch you, send you an alert, do a CLE for you…approaches that are all nakedly in the lawyer’s (or the firm’s) self-interest.” I then asked, “Has any lawyer ever approached you in a completely neutral manner…no pitching, just trying to begin an industry-related conversation with you, or purely asking for background for an article?”
While two of them tried in vain to think of such a circumstance, the third one stared, transfixed, as if I had just walked off a spaceship. He eventually said:
“I’m sorry. It took me a second there. I didn’t realize that scenario even existed.”
Lawyers would be well-advised to make it exist. Of the 95 Theses offered in “The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business As Usual,” a provocative business book released during the late ’90s dot-com boom, guess which one tops the list:
1. There is no market for pitches.
Corporate counsel, like every other sentient being, hates being pitched. If you doubt this, click here. At about the 2:15 mark of this video, you’ll see and hear first-hand evidence of the scorn and loathing for law firm pitches expressed by corporate counsel we interviewed.
If that somehow doesn’t get the point across, ask yourself, “Do you like being pitched?”