What can outside counsel do to impress their franchisor clients and foster a long-term relationship? It is all about demonstrating your value. Here are three approaches that can help demonstrate value:
- Offer alternative billing solutions, such as a flat fee or a monthly retainer. These arrangements are a great way to capture repetitive transactional work, such as default letters, cease and desist letters, vendor agreements and franchise agreements. They also manage the franchisor’s expectations and allow it to meaningfully budget for future legal work.
- Present cost, time and quality comparisons to your franchisor clients. In-house counsel should have records of costs and time spent on both in-house and outside legal projects, along with samples of the work. Request this information from your clients and analyze whether it makes sense for them to send certain work your way. If a client does not have this information, work with the client to create and evaluate it in an effort to objectively show your value.
- Finally, consult with in-house counsel the way you would a billing partner in your firm who is in charge of overseeing the efficient delegation and completion of a client’s legal work. Let in-house counsel do what he or she was hired to do -- reduce legal costs, manage projects and apply the franchisor’s perspective. Ask for in-house counsel’s advice and offer in-house counsel the opportunity to actively participate in the legal work being completed, which may include involvement in the initial drafting process. The more you let in-house counsel shine in his or her position, the more you will demonstrate your value to the franchisor.
While this article focuses on what outside counsel can do to impress in-house counsel at large franchisors, some the same principles apply equally to all attorneys. For example, you will go a long way in endearing yourself to your clients if you are willing to adapt your practices to meet their needs, continually demonstrate your value and involve them in meaningful ways, as appropriate, in the legal work being completed.