When it comes to clients, Nutter McClennen & Fish always
does its homework. But now, Nutter partner Lisa Adams has an entire
team working with her to increase the firm's client knowledge and
strengthen its client relationships.
Adams, who manages the Boston firm's intellectual property
department, is leading a team in an innovative approach to client
service. The pilot program, which was launched in January, is aimed
at developing an in-depth knowledge of one of the firm's industrial
"We're engaging in an organized process that has multiple team
members, where we're trying to find out as much as we can about the
client's business -- from the client and public information,"
explained Bill Geary, Nutter's co-managing partner. "The purpose is
to get a better understanding of what this client does, what makes
the company tick, and how we can support the people we work with to
do a better job."
"Understanding a client's business is something we've always
done," Adams stressed. "What's new is our organized approach and
who's involved. We opened this up to anybody in the firm, and it's
The 25-member, cross-departmental team includes senior partners
and associates, as well non-attorneys, such as secretaries,
librarians and other staff members.The research scope and amount of
time members put in is up to them, Geary said. Members meet as a
group twice a month during non-work hours, usually at lunchtime, to
brainstorm and launch research projects. Some members monitor the
client's industry, while others prepare briefings for the
"It's a proactive approach," explained Mike O'Horo, a Las
Vegas-based legal industry consultant who introduced the concept to
Nutter and has been working with the team. "Each week, the team
members try to make a certain number of outreach calls based upon
research other team members have done on industry
Reaction from Nutter's client has been positive, according to
"They think it's great we're taking the time in an organized way
to learn about their business," he said.
Adams said the research has increased her understanding of the
client. It also gives team members an appreciation of their
"What [volunteers] get out of it, I think, is the feeling of
being part of something bigger," Adams said. "It's exciting for us
to have successes together."
"I get to work with people I normally wouldn't, and see how good
they are; everybody gets to show their stuff to a different
audience," explained Geary. "That's great for everybody."
The effort has also provided valuable business development
experience for the firm's young associates, he noted.
"The younger lawyers are really embracing this," Geary said.
"They're learning how to service a client and learning all these
The organized, group research process can help law firms learn
about emerging industry and company-specific issues, O'Horo
"What clients really look for in their lawyers and law firms are
lawyers that care about and understand their business," Geary said.
"We're learning about a client's business so that we're able to do
very good work for them. They appreciate that we are an advisor to