Law Firm Articles

Creating a Cross-Serving CultureShift: Book Review

Creating a Cross-Serving CultureShift
by David H. Freeman, J.D.
Ark Group, London, 2015

Rare is the law firm Executive Committee that wouldn’t like to see more of their colleagues engaging in more business development activities. And while you can’t turn any random lawyer into a prolific rainmaker, most any lawyer can learn skills that, practiced faithfully, will reliably increase their book of business. In his latest book Creating a Cross-Serving CultureShift, David Freeman tells you how.

Why “cross-serving” rather than “cross-selling”? The shift in emphasis from ‘What’s in it for me?’ to ’What does this client want and need?’ reframes the sales process as a collaborative effort between a lawyer, his or her partners, and an existing client to deliver the broadest package of services that will truly benefit the client. The benefits accrue to the lawyer and the law firm as well, of course, in the form of stickier client relationships, barriers to entry for competitor law firms, increased revenue, and multiple points of contact that will make succession and transition easier if a key partner leaves the firm.

Drawing upon his career as a practicing attorney followed by 20 years of business development consulting, David Freeman explains how “doing the right things and doing them more often” has paid off for attorneys of every stripe in the nearly 200 law firms he has served.

Altman Weil’s research among chief legal officers confirms David’s premise that clients will tell you what they need if they trust your motives and if you let them. They want you to come see them and really listen to what they have to say, seeking to genuinely understand their goals, strategies, motivations, priorities, challenges, competition, reward systems, decision processes and the like. This kind of empathic listening is an important part of the cross-serving process.

Whether you are a managing partner, practice leader, mentor, compensation committee member, business development professional, or simply a lawyer looking to improve your overall effectiveness and contribution, David offers straightforward advice for strengthening your cross-selling (and cross-serving) capabilities.  The book provides practical tools for removing obstacles, retraining your inner voice, developing new skills, targeting the best opportunities, creating replicable processes, making excellent impressions, running great meetings, and creating a rational context for contacting clients and introducing them to others in your firm. Ample case studies provide color and clarity.

Increasing lawyers’ competence (skills) and confidence (attitude) will help overcome some of the common reasons why lawyers don’t pursue more “cross-serving” opportunities. The book will help you counter objections like: The lawyers don’t know how; are afraid to try; have tried and failed; think they are too busy; or think their interests are best served by billing time rather than investing non-billable time with partners, colleagues and clients.

Creating a Cross-Serving CultureShift succeeds in demystifying business development and equipping any lawyer or business development professional to implement clear, proven strategies for effective cross-selling.