Lawyers Journal

Team Effort Enhances Nutter's Client Services

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 clients.

"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 voluntary."

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 group.

"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 issues."


Positive Reaction

Reaction from Nutter's client has been positive, according to Geary.

"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 colleagues' expertise.

"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 good habits."

The organized, group research process can help law firms learn about emerging industry and company-specific issues, O'Horo said.

"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 them."

©2014 Massachusetts Bar Association