At the WJF Institute, we strive to give our clients the highest possible level of instruction. As a testament to our dedication, we have included several of our favorite success stories.
Largest State Employee Pension Fund Beauty Contest
A 450 lawyer multi-office California firm was asked to "bid" on a three year general representation opportunity. The fees for the representation were $3,000,000. Seven nationally recognized firms were selected for the competition. The pension fund set down very specific rules for the bidding presentation. The firms were told to prepare a 15 minute presentation accompanied by a proposal. The firms were instructed to:
1) Remain seated at a table approximately 50 feet from the selection committee during the presentation.
2) Give an oral presentation. The use of visuals of any type would be grounds for disqualification.
3) Be prepared for a fifteen minute question and answer session following the presentation.
Our client was scheduled to be the fourth firm to present. The team's had previously selected a strategy that focused on the firm's experience, knowledge, and prominence in California. We advised the firm to get transcripts of previous competitive bid hearings. We had just trained the lawyers on the team three days prior to the presentation. We trained the team to interview, develop service strategies and present their firm's unique capabilities. The team of lawyers practiced the presentation five times with a mock selection committee made of the firm's lawyers and staff. The firm's presentation focused on how they planned to work with and service the pension fund's needs. The team's proposal and the presentation was a clear and concise four step statement of the firm's specific service commitment. All of the other firms gave an overview of their intellectual capabilities. The selection committee evaluated all the other proposals using the "Statement of Service Commitment" created by the firm.
The firm was awarded the contract two hours following the last presentation. As previously mentioned, this pension fund competitive presentation occurred three days following the team training. The training helped the team to recognize the need to change their initial approach of a "talking resume" to a more client service and client need centered presentation and proposal. The firm's success in this difficult "hands tied behind the back" environment made it possible for the other untrained lawyers to see the benefits of interviewing, team presentations training and client specific service strategies. The firm is in the process of training all the lawyers.
Litigation in Financial Institutions
We assisted a Texas full service firm of 21 lawyers to retain a $4,000,000 client, a Houston, Texas financial institution. An out-of-state bank acquired the firm's largest client and subsequently decided to seek new outside litigation counsel.
We trained the firm's lawyers to do client development interviews and compete in presentations (beauty contests). We selected key banking executives that should be interviewed. We debriefed the lawyers after the interview process was complete. Afterwards, we conducted strategy sessions to determine the client's needs. The firm concluded that an in-house lender liability workshop would allow the firm to showcase it's expertise and assist the bank in understanding the issues. The workshop was in actuality a beauty contest. The firm used the workshop as an opportunity to cause the bank to re-examine the decision to replace outside litigation counsel. The firm's success can be attributed directly to the interview training and the strategy sessions. The workshop and the presentation skills training enhanced the firm's capability to deliver their message.
The bank rescinded their decision to change outside litigation counsel. As an additional strategy, the firm implemented a new client opinion survey program as an early warning system to potential client defections. The bank instituted a similar in-house survey and the firm has remained as one of the top rated firms doing work for the bank.
General Representation of Financial Institutions
We assisted a Texas full service firm of 175 lawyers to retain a $2,000,000 client, a Houston, Texas financial institution. The bank had been slowly giving out more work to several outside firms at the expense of the WJF Institute's client.
We trained a team of lawyers to do client development interviews. We identified key bank loan executives to be interviewed. We debriefed the lawyers after the interview process was complete. Afterwards, we conducted several strategy sessions to determine the client's needs. The team decided that a joint bank and firm reception would be a place to start the relationship anew. The purpose of the reception was to announce the creation of a team of lawyers that would service the bank. The firm also showed it's commitment by transferring $1,000,000 to the bank. The underlying strategy was to gain the confidence of the banking executives that the firm was willing to commit resources and funds to the relationship. Also, the team developed and announced a service strategy that addressed the unique needs of the bank.
This was the first time the firm had created a client specific service team, interviewed the client, developed a strategy and executed the strategy. The bank continues to remain a client of the firm and, in a recessionary economy, the revenues have grown.
Potential Healthcare Client Defection
A 210 lawyer multi-office New England firm's healthcare practice group (21 lawyers) was faced with the defection of two key clients. The annual combined fees were approximately $3,500,000. The firm discovered that the healthcare clients had been approached by a 14 lawyer firm that located in the same suburban community as the healthcare facilities. The smaller firm had offered to do that clients' work at a discount.
The WJF Institute trained a group of four healthcare lawyers to interview, develop service strategies and present solutions. The practice group head made calls on the hospital administrators to determine the nature of their concerns. It was clear that fees were the main focus. The firm's response was to create a specially focused healthcare program designed to reduce the cost of outside counsel. The program was successful in reducing the healthcare facilities' outside legal costs and increased the revenue for the firm. The discounted fee program offered by the smaller firm did not take into consideration the learning curve costs, stored forms and a "lean and mean fixed fee menu" developed by the WJF Institute trained firm.
The firm retained the clients and used the "lean and mean" program with other healthcare facilities. The healthcare practice group used the client opinion survey to serve as an early warning system. The firm is in the process of training all of the lawyers.
New Healthcare Client
A 200 lawyer multi-office Northwest firm's healthcare practice group (six lawyers) represented a local hospital. The hospital paid the firm $29,000 in fees during the previous 12 months. The hospital was later merged with a larger regional healthcare group. The newly merged group was represented by several of the largest firms in the Northwest.
The WJF Institute trained a group of six healthcare lawyers to interview, develop service strategies and present solutions. The practice group lawyers made calls on the hospital administrators and approximately 25 other decision makers in various locations. The lawyers kept interview logs that were shared with any of the new added members of the firm's service team. The firm's healthcare lawyers continued interviewing and were able to develop business relationships with the key decision makers.
The firm tracked both costs and revenue from the initial training session in January 1990 to January 1991. The firm was able to determine that the training, interviewing and strategy development resulted in revenues increasing from $29,000 to $589,000. The interviewing was done while meeting with the client on other matters. The training sessions and the strategy sessions were part of a fixed cost, $15,000. This client is very profitable. The competition is still not aware of the inroads made by the WJF Institute's client. The lessons learned from this effort are being applied to other healthcare facilities in the Northwest.
A 400 lawyer international firm became aware of an intellectual property litigation opportunity while interviewing a current client. The client's survival was dependent upon the ability to use certain trademarks and processes. The client was not aware of their potential loss.
The opportunity came about as a result of a post WJF Institute's training course debriefing session. This firm's leadership trained and selected three clients to be interviewed and developed. It was during these post training interviews that the lawyer learned of the opportunity. Intellectual property was not the practice area of the lawyer conducting the interviews. During the CDS (Client Debriefing Session) the other attending lawyers were able to identify the exact need and the appropriate firm lawyer to solve the client's problem.
This small litigation item turned into three significant matters for the firm and assisted the client to retain valuable rights. The cost of the training for that lawyer was $2,200 in direct consulting cost and 18 hours of lawyer time. This client is a very profitable client for the firm. The firm has been using this approach with other similar clients that are unaware of their predicament.
Large Federal Government Beauty Contest
A 400 lawyer multi-office Midwest firm was asked to "bid" on a twenty year representation involving approximately $21,000,000 in fees. The firm was asked to prepare a presentation and a proposal.
The WJF Institute trained a group of twelve lawyers to interview, develop service strategies and present solutions. Three of the twelve lawyers participated in the bid process. The lawyers interviewed key decision makers and created a presentation that addressed the needs of the agency. The firm's emphasis on service was well received and the firm has been awarded the representation, pending a final agency directorship approval.
The interviewing and service strategy efforts gave the firm a unique understanding of the client's needs. The ability to target the solution message gave the firm the competitive edge.