Archive for May, 2009

Lawyers Increasingly Focus on Client Development

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

According to the Wall Street Journal’s recent article titled Lawyers Lack Skills to Draw, Keep Clients, lawyers are increasingly turning to individual business development coaching, rather than relying on traditional law firm marketing techniques.


Why International Lawyers Shouldn’t “Sell” Their Expertise

Friday, May 15th, 2009

When clients hire you, are they purchasing your expertise?  Not so, according to Harry Beckwith in Selling the Invisible because  “your expertise is assumed…” Rather, he points out, professionals are selling a relationship, “and that’s precisely the area [in which professionals] need the most work”.

If you are an international lawyer working at a reputible firm, most clients will assume that you know your stuff. True, they may search out specialists in certain narrow fields (like Islamic finance). However, after that, it comes down to relationships.

Recently I worked with an international lawyer who  liked to talk about her expertise–ad nauseum. At cocktail parties, in elevators, in the subway and in meetings–she talked about her expertise.  The result? Instead of developing more clients, she turned off other people.

Then, we had her pay attention to other people, how they reacted to her, and why. Eventuially, she stopped promoting her accomplishments and instead tried to cultivate relationships. Selling services takes time–and requires good relationships.

If you have not read Selling the Invisible, it shares basic principles about how to sell services. It’s an oldie but goodie (published in 1997), but is perhaps more useful than ever in today’s competitive market.

Janet Quoted about Perils of Miscommunicating

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

When a Massachusetts neurosurgeon was found liable for discriminatory comments about the gender and ethnic origin of a female surgeon, The Massachusetts Medical Law Report interviewed me about Tips for Avoiding Communication Problems.  Although the surgeon’s conduct was clearly offensive, it’s possible that he did not realize just how inappropriate his comments sounded.

As I mentioned in the article, the first step in such a situation is to make the professional aware about how he/she comes across. A person’s communication style is learned over time–and engrained.  A professional may not realize that his/her communication style offends other people.

Negotiating (and Interviewing) around the World

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Before you fly abroad on business–whether to negotiate a deal or interview for a new job–polish your cross-cultural communication skills. For a quick cultural cross-check, look at the new edition Frank Acuff’s How to Negotiate Anything with Anyone Anywhere around the World. Apart from negotiating tips, the book gives a helpful, practical overview by country of communication styles, cultural sensitivities, table manners, gender issues and the like. It is an invaluable book for professionals that work with people from a broad variety of cultures.