We received over five hundred responses to last Thursday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey on client contact, and most of you have been enjoying extensive client interaction:
Results: How many times have you interacted with clients in the last month?
Of course, not all client contacts are created equal:
More findings and discussion, after the jump.
Of course, not all client contact was direct. As one of you lamented:
To the extent the partners and senior associates at my firm are my “clients” (as they told me in orientation), I have contact with them more than ten times per day! I often wish I had less “client” contact.
About half of respondents reported that they drafted documents last month that a partner then sent on to clients under his or her own name. Another two-thirds reported that they discussed issues with a partner who then discussed those issues with the client.
Less than one-fourth of respondents said that their firms would compensate them for bringing in a client. The compensation structures vary dramatically, with some firms paying a percentage of fees received, and others factoring the client intake into the rainmaker’s bonus. Most of the reported percentage-based awards were 5% or 10%, but a few respondents received 15%, 25%, or 50% of the net.
But are your firms helping you build a practice? Twenty-eight percent of respondents complained that the firm offers no meaningful support. Only twenty percent of respondents said that their firms provided formal training on pitching prospective clients. (Lowenstein Sandler, Sidley & Austin, and Sullivan & Worcester in particular were well represented here.) Thirty-seven percent reported that their firms told them to go to bar association meetings or write articles, and twenty-seven percent said that their firm recommended events or activities for meeting clients.
At some firms, individual partners are stepping up as mentors. About a quarter of respondents said that partners let them actively participate in client pitches, and another quarter reported that they were at least invited to sit in on client pitches. Roughly fifteen percent of respondents noted that partners had actively assisted them in pitching their own potential clients. Forty-three percent of respondents said that partners had made them a primary contact for their clients. (Reed Smith did particularly well here, with multiple associates giving props to the partners for propping them up. They also have a modest, but comprehensible, compensation structure for bringing in clients.)