For many senior lawyers, the Holy Grail of law practice is to become regarded as indispensable to clients. These lawyers are the first ones called when a client must make an important decision or deal with a serious problem.
From such a rarefied perch, it is easy to forget how you got there.
So, how do you stay grounded? We urge lawyers to recognize that the "indispensable advisor" status is at the apex of an "impact ladder" consisting of four escalating forms of stature, based on increasing impact:
Over the next few weeks, we'll look at each of these in turn, beginning today with Relevance.
When clients discuss business problems or opportunities internally, what will make them think of you...or any lawyer? Will your legal pedigree alone do it?
Maybe for a small handful of lawyers considered the absolute top experts in a field. But it's not the way most lawyers come to a client's mind.
That's because most clients' conversations sound like business conversations. If they're discussing industry challenges, strategy, operations or economics, will they associate you with any of these? Will you come to mind at all?
Or will your name only arise when the decisions have already been made? At that point, businesses assemble a list of equally qualified technicians (a/k/a "lawyers") to compete to implement the decisions.
To what industries and business problems are you most relevant? This is your Door Opener. It literally opens doors because it begins and sustains the conversation that lets you into the game before the decisions are made...and keeps you in it throughout, while your competitors are waiting around, hoping to get a shot at a legal assignment.
Next week: Usefulness