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Your Client Hires New General Counsel. Now What?

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD | Last updated on

Last week, we looked at how to deal with new general counsel from an in-house attorney's perspective. But, realistically, in-house counsel aren't the only ones who have to brace themselves for change when there's a new GC in charge. After all, in many cases the GC has hired your firm -- and she may easily decide to take her business elsewhere.

Here are some tips for BigLaw associates on how to deal with a change in your client's in-house law department.

1. Get to Know the Client

A new general counsel at your client's company, actually means, a new client. The client's business is not guaranteed, and you'll need to win the client (again). Don't be fooled, GCs come in with their own networks, and own preferred firms to work with -- hopefully you are on the list, but if not, make an effort to get to know the new general counsel, and learn about what her priorities are.

2. Educate the Client About Your Firm

Since you'll need to win the client over (again), you'll want to educate the new general counsel on what makes your firm exceptional. Perhaps your firm has a niche practice in that company's industry, or your firm is home to a partner that is rock star in the field, whatever the case may be, let the GC know that your firm is the right place for her business. In addition, let her know about any pending matters, or previous matters that your firm has handled (hopefully well).

3. Know Who to Talk To

Increasingly, the issue of billing is being handed off to legal department operations managers. Find out if the new GC has plans of bringing an LDO manager on (as is the trend right now), and know if you should be raising billing issues with the GC or LDO manager.

3. Be Prepared to Talk About Fees

Whenever GCs are surveyed, the number one issue is always billing, and the increased usage of alternative fee arrangements is evidence of that. No doubt the new GC will want to be seen as efficient, and may want to cut costs at the outset. One way of retaining the client may be to explore cost cutting opportunities in the billing arrangements you have with the company.

Working with new general counsel will be a challenge at first, with the first hurdle being client retention. Once that's done, focus on building a new working relationship with her -- you may even end up getting more business out of it than before.

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