How Lawyers Get and Retain Business Clients
Show clients their business structure
Clients sign the organizational and transactional documents we give them. Even to sophisticated clients, the lawyer’s work product can seem like just so much paperwork. Contract summaries simply reduce the number of words that a client needs to read in less technical language.
Clients find visuals much more compelling. The cliché that a picture is worth 1,000 words is not very useful to lawyers who deal in words, not pictures. The question is how can we turn the stock purchase agreement, acquisition deal, or organizational documents into a visual that matters?
The answer is the business org chart.
A business org chart differs from human or management org charts in three respects.
Ownership and control v. Reporting relationships
The purpose of a business org chart is to show which individuals and legal entities own other legal entities in the corporate family. It does not matter whether the corporate family is small, as in the case of a start-up, or large, in the case of a public multi-national, the objective of the org chart is to illustrate owner relationships.
In contrast, management org charts show reporting relationships. The objective is to show which employees of a single entity report up through the management structure to the chief executive officer. Management org charts may focus on a division or department but the purpose is the same.
The number of top level nodes
All org charts have two principal characteristics: nodes and lines. A node is the box that represents an individual or a legal entity. A line represents a relationship between nodes. For business org charts a line typically represents equity ownership; for management org charts, reporting relationships.
To state the obvious, legal entities often have more than one owner. Management charts start with a single person at the top. Less obvious is the fact that charts with an unknown number of top-level nodes also creates dramatically more complex layout challenges from a mathematical perspective.
Management charts sometimes show dotted line relationships where an employee reports to more than one manager. Business org charts are inherently more complex since each entity can have an unlimited number of parent and subsidiary relationships.
Legal entities bring another dimension of complexity to drawing an org chart. Ownership relationships can “skip” generations. Generation skipping in org charts is the idea that one entity can own another entity directly, as a parent, and indirectly as a grandparent (or higher).
These three differences between legal entity organizational charts and management org charts underscore the importance of using entity management software designed to generate these kinds of charts.
You can create a dynamic, visual presentation of a client’s entire ownership structure. Lextree automates the creation of org charts.
The cliché that a picture is worth 1,000 words is not useful to lawyers who deal in words, not pictures.
Send automated reminders
Calendaring and notifications are indispensable for lawyers. These simple tools can become powerful agents of client engagement for the busy lawyer. Entity management software allows lawyers to set long-term and recurring alerts for themselves and clients. Consider two examples: document expiration monitoring and compliance requirements.
Document expiration notifications
As part of the organization of a new subsidiary for a business client, there is an intellectual property license into the firm. This is a valuable asset. You drafted the license. It was signed. Now what?
Imagine the license term is for three years. You can set an automatic email notification to go out forty-five (45) days before the expiration. That alert can have a recurring frequency, say once a week. More important, you can select client emails to receive those automatic alerts.
Clients have to manage increasingly complex compliance requirements across industries. You can provide proactive legal services by notifying clients of upcoming compliance requirements automatically.
Requirements can cut across jurisdictions. They can have various recurring frequencies. For example, a filing might be due every three years, instead of one. You can arrange for an email alert to go out tied to the filing requirement frequency.
Automated email notifications are little ambassadors of client engagement.
Manage officer and director assignments
It does not take many legal entities in a corporate family to make tracking officers and directors difficult.
You can create a library of all the available people and organizations who serve as officers and directors across the corporate family. Easily assign them to different roles in any number of entities. This allows you to create reports for each person showing their entities.
It is also possible to track terms of service so you can see who was on the board or in management during a certain period of time.
Track important compliance requirements
Yes, you already track annual report filing deadlines. You can, however, deepen your connection with business clients by monitoring a long list of compliance requirements.
Those requirements might be industry specific or arise from the jurisdictions where your client operates. Regardless of the origin, you can manage and monitor those filings on behalf of your client.
Centralize organizational documents
Documents create and maintain legal entities. Keep organizational and important operational documents in one place. With an expiration or termination date, you can set email alerts for yourself and clients.
BONUS: Enable client access
Entity management software is a powerful tool to help you retain business clients and grow your corporate practice. These solutions help you and your staff deliver more value to clients.
Tools like Lextree let you extend your practice beyond the four corners of the office. You can grant controlled access to any client you want. A general counsel or executive with the client can log in to review their current business org chart, see compliance deadlines, and review tasks. You are in complete control of what they see and do.
These five techniques, plus one bonus tip, can supercharge your client engagement and retention. Business clients are valuable, long-term revenue generators for law firms. Entity management software, such as Lextree, is a basic part of securing that revenue.