Newest Law Firm Trends in Diversity, Client Development, Dashboard Metrics and More – a Preview of the 2019 RainDance Conference
Once again, June will bring to Chicago a brainstorm of innovative legal thinking, brewed up by professionals responsible for client service and development at law firms around the world who are gathering for the 16th annual Legal Sales and Service Organization (LSSO) RainDance Conference on June 5-6.
This year’s conference will feature sessions regarding useful dashboard metrics, improving client service, enhancing collaboration between lawyers and business development pros, cultivating personal resilience to climb new heights, rapid-fire questions for actual legal clients, and better ways to attract and retain diverse talent.
Conference co-chairs, Stephanie Hinrichs and Neel Lilani, recently previewed some of the valuable insights that they expect to come out of the big rainmaking event, noting that they expect both to provide and take home a lot of useful information. Hinrichs is the Director of Client Service for Womble Bond Dickinson, a transatlantic law firm with more than 1,000 lawyers based in 28 offices, and she interfaces directly with clients in the manufacturing, transportation and logistics industries. Lilani is Managing Director of global client development for Orrick, a firm with 1,200 attorneys in more than 25 offices, and he focuses much of his time on the tech and finance sectors, consulting with clients about growth, business strategy, investment and competition.
Here is what they had to say in response to specific questions about this year’s rainmaking event:
Q. This year’s opening luncheon will feature a “fishbowl dialogue” about sales strategies. Stephanie, what is that all about?
A. (SH): The “fishbowl” is designed to take advantage of all the best minds in legal service sales who will be in our audience. Four experts will kick off the program [Neel Lilani and Stephanie, paired with David Bowerman, Director of Client Development at K&L/Gates, and Hans Haglund, Chief Commercial Officer at Eversheds Sutherland] sharing their real-life experiences of opportunities seized or obstacles overcome. Then our moderator [Beth Cuzzone, Chief Business Growth Officer at Goulston & Storrs] will ask questions of audience members who volunteer to take an open seat at the table and share their experiences for the benefit of everyone. It will be a high-energy event that is rich in value.
Q. Neel, what kinds of value do you foresee the audience contributing and getting from this event?
A. (NL): There will be value in hearing shared experiences from a variety of perspectives presented by the speakers. I expect that we will engage in dialogue on a range of issues, likely to include best practices for client development, metrics used to evaluate success, and technology tools used to increase effectiveness, among others. I am also looking forward to discussing ideal skill sets and prior professional experiences for high performing external client-facing legal sales executives. Equally important, I am excited to discuss the evolving competitive landscape in the legal industry and the growth of alternative legal service providers.
Q. For each of you, as conference participants, how do you expect RainDance to help you and your law firms?
A. (SH): The value I will get out of this comes from all of us sharing what we have learned. There are not many of us in the world who are client-facing sales professionals in the legal industry, so it is invaluable to share our experiences selling services to clients and selling our own ideas to internal lawyers. RainDance also provides an opportunity to hear how alternative service providers and Big Four competitors are doing it. They are key competitors, and depending on the situation, partners, who continue to be on the rise. We always look at what people are doing outside of the legal service industry too. Looking at process and success outside of law firms is something that LSSO does particularly well, and that is often something we can bring back to our firms and implement ahead of the competition.
A. (NL): I would add that RainDance will be a great opportunity to identify talent in the marketplace, to share best practices, to discuss salary trends and attracting and retaining top performers. It is also a significant brand building and networking opportunity within the legal industry.
Q. Which sessions are each of you most excited about from a personal viewpoint?
A. (SH): I am really looking forward to the “mini-hackathon” on compliance with the new “Mansfield Rule” [an aspirational rule that requires 30 percent of law firm leadership candidates to be minorities and women, which was named after Arabella Mansfield, the first woman admitted to practice law in the United States]. Firms want to get to the number, but you can’t just get there by flipping a switch or with good intentions. I want to know how firms can find, recruit and keep minority talent. Also, I’m looking forward to our rapid-fire client panel. I have witnessed this event repeatedly, and never came away without picking up something important and useful from clients. The dashboard and metrics session should be good too. We are all trying to figure out what to measure, how to measure it and how to move the dial. None of us have it all figured out yet, and measurement tools and analyses are constantly evolving.
A. (NL): The segment on women rainmakers should be critical to all of us. There is a large group of women partners rising to leadership ranks at many firms, and they are providing a competitive advantage at a time when clients are demanding diversity at senior levels – not merely those servicing a deal or matter. Women rainmakers will directly impact the success of new client acquisition efforts because of their diverse leadership styles and ability to build consensus. Attending this session will be time well spent for anyone at a major firm.
Q. Do you have any tips or final thoughts to share with those attending or considering the conference?
A. (SH): It is critical for us to develop and update our sales skills as the legal market continues to grow and change. Every client facing person must know their firm’s strengths and what they have to sell against the backdrop of competition. The approaches that work with clients are constantly evolving, and RainDance attendance is a great way of keeping current on what is working now and what will likely work in the future.
A. (NL): LSSO offers a uniquely talented community that brings together client development professionals at decision-making levels from across the industry. External facing development professionals are of increasing importance to law firms, and RainDance is one of the few places where we meet and learn from one another.