AHLA's Speaking of Health Law

Client Development In Disruptive Times

August 17, 2020 AHLA Podcasts
AHLA's Speaking of Health Law
Client Development In Disruptive Times
Show Notes Transcript

Delphine O’Rourke, Partner, Goodwin Procter LLP, speaks to Jennifer Nelson Carney, Partner, Bricker & Eckler LLP, and Karen Kahn, founder, Threshold Advisors, about client development during this unprecedented time. The speakers talk about their own practices and give practical advice on how they counsel others on inclusiveness and practice development during the pandemic. From AHLA's Women's Leadership Council.

To learn more about AHLA and the educational resources available to the health law community, visit americanhealthlaw.org.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Client Development in Disruptive Times . Thank you to the A H L A into the Women's Leadership Council . My name is Delphina Rourke , and I'm partner with Goodwin's, New York office and a healthcare regulatory attorney with a focus on crisis management and emergency response. Today we're gonna discuss client development, both mindset and practical tips for developing relationships and being successful. During covid . I'm thrilled to be joined by Karen Kahn of special advisors and Jenny Nelson Kearney of Bricker and ler. Um, I'm gonna hand it over first to Karen to introduce herself and tell us more about her consulting practice and to then turn it over to Jenny and then we'll get started. Karen,

Speaker 2:

I'm delighted to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me. I have a very weird background. I've actually been a psychologist for the past 45 years, and for the past 18 years, I have turned my practice into being a strategic coach and consultant for , uh, large law firms, both individuals and large law firms, and the law firms themselves. I help create strategies , um, big picture strategies that then get turned into small steps, one step at a time to help individuals advance their careers in whatever way is important to them.

Speaker 1:

So , Karen, thank you for joining us today. And Jenny. Um, so Jenny and I first met through , uh, the Women's Leadership Council, and those of you who are not familiar with the Lee Weiman's Leadership Council and are members of A H L A , please check us out on the website. We have fabulous , uh, not just , uh, networking events, but content open to everyone, all members of A H L A . Um , and immediately I was drawn to , to Jenny's , um, just energy and how outgoing and how easily he connected with people who thought that she would be perfect for our conversation today, and giving practical steps as a woman attorney , um, with a successful practice who's also juggling her personal life. Uh , so Jenny , thank you. And can you tell us a little bit or tell your audience a little bit about yourself?

Speaker 3:

Sure. Thanks so much, Delphine . I'm so glad to be here today with you and Karen. Uh, as Delphine said, I am an attorney and partner at Brooker and Eckler. I live in Columbus, Ohio. I , uh, chair our healthcare industry group, which has about 35 attorneys that work full-time in the healthcare industry space. I also sit on our executive committee. So when I'm thinking about some of these issues of business development, especially during this challenging time, I'm not only thinking of it for myself and for my healthcare team, but for all the attorneys in our firm and how we can better equip each other to continue to move our practices and our business forward. And as Delphine mentioned, I get really excited about this stuff, so I'm, I'm so excited to be able to , uh, talk to everybody about it today.

Speaker 1:

So, client development, relationship building, networking, we're all generally talking about how do we connect and generate from the relationships that we have or the relationships that we would like to have. And even in non-disruptive times, client development can be a challenge for many. So our focus today is, you know, not just generally what we can do, but also so we can have some specific takeaways. And our goal is that Karen and Jenny , who are both , uh, experts in this area, will be able to share some of their best practices and that you can adopt to your style , but they can really be takeaways to help you in chartering unprecedented waters in relationship building. So, Jenny , okay , let , let's start off with you then. So as you're , you know, cl clearly you're thinking about it both from , um, you know, macro perspective, your own practice, and then how you can mentor others. So what are just, you know , what are things that you're seeing, practical steps that you're seeing that are being effective, as well as just a general philosophy around client development? And I know we've talked about how it's a marathon, it's not a sprint. Covid is maybe, you know , uh, that big hill in the middle of your long-term client development journey. Uh , what are you seeing working and what's not ?

Speaker 3:

Well, you're exactly right. Delphine , uh, business development, client development, practice development, no matter what term you use, it is all a marathon and not a sprint. And I actually think that if people look at it that way, it may sound counterintuitive, but it's less overwhelming. If you think about doing a marathon, it means doing a little bit every single day, rather than saying, oh, okay, today is Wednesday and I'm going to do my business development today. That's not the right mindset. You need to be thinking about every day I'm doing some sort of business development or practice development or connecting with clients. And I think that, you know, that should be, that's important for that to be the mindset e every day of the year. But with covid , it obviously changes the way that you go about those interactions, but doesn't have to change your overall philosophy of working towards those goals every day . So one thing that I emphasize to our team here, and I know Karen , um, does as well with the people she coaches, cuz she and I have had a chat about this before, is remember that your clients and colleagues are human. And a really important part of business development are those relationships. That's the key to everything. And so in this time where everyone is so stressed and stressed in unique and unusual ways that they're not usually stressed on top of all their normal stresses, reach out to your colleagues and peers and clients and check on them as humans. Don't reach out to them and just say, Hey, I'm calling because I've got this pitch for you. I think, you know, I want you to know about this service that we provide. Check on them to see how they're doing. How are they managing? How are their families? How is their business going? And, and how are they juggling all those things? It hopefully that's a natural reaction and impulse that you would have anyway, but I think that people forget that fundamentally , um, those, those relationships that you build by doing those things, that's the fundamental basis of practice development. Karen, what do you think about that?

Speaker 2:

Well, it's all about relationships. Clients buy , so to speak, lawyers . So as a person to person , um, encounter, what I think is really important that those of us in professional services don't really have training in thinking about is the marketplace in general. And in order to be able to balance that huge pressure of billable hours, the complexity of what you guys do as lawyers with this other activity called business development. Um, it's important to be organized. Um, one of the really fascinating things I've found , um, during this time of covid discussions about racial injustice , um, and certainly the , uh, financial sector having its down, is our brains are more scattered than ever before. Um, those of you who have children are thinking about education. Um, those of you with older parents and or who are in the older age range yourself are trying to not be vulnerable to this horrible disease. So organization is key. Um, so one of the things , um, I think is really important, and Jenny talked about it , um, is I, is time. So I suggest 15 minutes a day, and here's how I suggest you organize it. Before you say, here's what I'm going to do, let's think about what you wanna be accomplishing. So number one, I would look at , uh, who your, who's, who are 25 of , uh, your relationships that you wanna sustain, particularly during these complicated times. They may be clients that you've been working really hard with. It may be relationships that you've made in trade organizations like this one. Um, it may be law school friends or family pick 25 relationships. And this week make a list of those 25. Number two, what I'd like you to do in your 15 minutes a day is on day one, I want you to choose someone to focus on and then explore what's going on with them. Go onto their websites , uh, go on to LinkedIn. Uh , they may have come up with a racial equality statement that you wanna comment on. Uh, they may be having particular covid challenges or covid opportunities , uh, in the healthcare space in particular. So explore them and say what is relevant that they're going through right now. In addition, as Jenny so eloquently talked about , uh, the humanness. So that will take you 15 minutes and then stop day two. I want you to take those notes that you've come up with about that person and make it into an email , a short email that number one , uh, talks about how are you doing? I hope this no fines you and your family doing well. Number two relates to something you've learned about them in the exploration. Um, and then number three, gives them an offer. Here's a resource that might be helpful to you. Uh , I'm putting together a webinar of other in-house counsel or other healthcare lawyers you might wanna join. Uh , it might be in a piece of information. Fyi, such and such regulations are changed. Do that in 15 minutes. So on Monday you've identified and explored on Tuesday you've engaged. And then on Wednesday, pick another person. So you will have reached out to two of your 25 people in that week, and then at the end of the month, you have done eight people. The next month you'll do another eight. What you wanna be doing is sustaining these relationships in a relevant way and in a way that reaches out to their needs during the covid time .

Speaker 1:

Yeah , Jen ? Cause I think this is, and I love the methodology. I love , um, for those of you who don't know you, Karen , um, it is a clinician at , at the beginning, at the source. So when she's talking about mindset, and, and I know that Jenny also talked about mindset and the fact that we are all, you know, so much more scattered than we were before. So I think the organization is key. Help me with mindset, help others in in two scenarios. One, I haven't done any of this since March because I was hoping, praying that it would be over by June and all of the other factors that we've, that we've listed. And now I'm thinking, is it a little bit awkward to be sending that email and making that connection four months later? And two, I'm an associate and and our audience today , um, is made up of associates as well as partners, as well as in-house folks, et cetera . Um, I maybe don't, what should I do about those clients that I was working with? Um, but I'm not, they're not my key client. Maybe there's a partner who's a primary client, but we work together on projects. Should they be part of my 25 or do I keep it to my 25 direct relations? I get that question all the time. Is it too presumptuous to reach out to this person?

Speaker 2:

Yeah , there's always they seeing you. Your questions are spot on . First of all, our culture's really funny and our sense of time , um, just flies by. So if you haven't talked to someone in four months or even four years or even 40 years, people love reconnecting. That's what's more important. It's not the amount of time, if it's been a while , you could be transparent and say, I feel so bad that it's been four months since we've been in touch and then move into your message. The second thing that you asked about associate , um, in particular, if you are not managing client , um, and not the client relationship partner, I would reach out to that partner first and make sure it's okay with him or her or they that you are making that connection , um, so that a client isn't receiving eight different reach outs from the same firm. So I'd wanna make sure internally that's okay. Second, it's definitely not presumptuous because you're not asking for work. You're checking in and you're being helpful. And that's a person to person . Whether you're saying, I know you guys are so busy dealing with remote working, this might have escaped your attention, was thinking about you. That's just a give anybody can give, whether you're a summer, whether you're an associate, or whether you're toward the end of your career. Yeah , it's not presumptuous. It's a wonderful way for people to connect.

Speaker 1:

And I'm , and then I'm gonna ask Jenny, you know, other ways that she's been connecting is that to Jenny's point on their humans of , you know, it's, I'm learning a lot more about my clients because of our Zoom interactions or because they're home and everything else that's going on, and I'm trying to , you know, sharing , you know, maybe they , they mentioned a movie that they liked or a show that I liked that we're connecting at different ways and that the share doesn't necessarily need to be work related because everybody needs a break, you know? And I think everyone's zoomed out. So Jenny , what are you doing? I mean, you know, there's zoom fatigue, you can't see people in person . Um, I mean, I've started distance lunches , uh, but just starting, Jenny , what , what are you finding? Um, you know, at first everybody was really excited about Zoom and I did all these Zoom cocktails and people invited me to do Zoom cocktails. Wh what are you seeing as next Karen ? Reggie mentioned emails .

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I, and I, I think you're right, Delphine, that that has become sort of the newest challenge, which is nobody wants to add 10 more zooms to their week . So, you know, what else can we do? And I think it really varies on your relationship with that person. Uh, so, you know, when I think about the people that I've been reaching out to that I see my colleagues reaching out to, there's still a, a fair number of Zoom calls if people have the appetite for that. But I have other clients where it's more of a formal email check-in. There's people that you can call, and to your point, you've learned so much about each other through this difficult time that you end up having a bunch of social conversation, which is great. Uh , I have gotten together outside for a distance cocktail with a couple clients, of course, that's totally to their comfort level. And, you know, as a healthcare attorney, frankly, I feel a responsibility to the industry to make sure that I'm doing it as safe as possible as well. Um, so I never would want to put anybody in the position where they think that that's expected. And so when we're talking, especially to our associates, we make sure that that's very clear that there's no expectation of trying to do something in person if that's not the comfort level , uh, of, of both people. Uh , and, and , and why I'm talking about associates for a minute, I wanted to circle back to, to one of the things that Karen was saying, I think she's, she's right on. Um, and Delphine, you mentioned this as well , uh, that if the associate wants to reach out to a client that they've been working with, that it's good to circle with the relationship partner first, just to make sure you're not getting multiple communications to that client who may be confused if the associate sends an email that says, you know, I'm sorry we haven't connected in four months. And, and the client says, well, I just talked to the partner earlier today, that type of thing. Um, but, you know, I think it's important to encourage people who are in the early stages of their career that if they don't have a list of 25 clients for whatever reason , uh, to make that list that Karen talked about, to really think about their peers, and that could be their law school peers, it could be just peers of your community , uh, organizations you belong to, neighbors, et cetera , and, and use those people to fill out those lists. And I , you know, I think in particular of my law school classmates who we all graduated at the same time, and now everybody's all over the country doing all kinds of different and interesting things, and it's good to keep in touch with those people. One, you know, it's , I really enjoy it knowing what they're up to. But two, those are great business sources and referrals. And I love the opportunity when I get to refer to some things , when I get to refer to a matter one of my , uh, law school classmates. So, and, and I , they do, they do the same. And so , uh, two associates don't just think that you're trying to, to find clients that are , uh, that you feel comfortable reaching out to. But it also , uh, keep in mind that your peers are a really important part of that list, because who knows, they might be clients in another five years or 10 years, or even 20 years, sometimes it takes that long. But , uh, those relationships that we've talked about, the importance of building those relationships , uh, those can be really significant to your career as well.

Speaker 1:

I go back to the marathon , um, so I'd late to explore, because I think in every crisis there's opportunity, and if you're able to pivot and be flexible , um, you can take advantage of the opportunity in a positive way. So , um, and maybe it is because we're in healthcare that, you know, I don't see this being a two month one and done . I think this is gonna be lasting. And if it's not covid, it's gonna be some variation on. Um, so for, for those attorneys who are comfortable pivoting and embracing this, this is an opportunity. If, you know, if, if golf outings were difficult for you, if baseball games weren't your thing , um, this might be a way to get ahead on client development by just being faster than everybody else in pivoting. So Karen, what are your thoughts there? How do we turn this disruptive time into a positive, particularly for women and women of color to develop contacts, clients, relationships, business, and use it to get ahead?

Speaker 2:

No, it's funny, the way you mentioned that question. I was just coaching somebody and what she said to me, and, and I , I love the way she said it, she said , um, I don't mind reaching out to people I don't know, and I don't either. In fact, I think it's fun. And what she , what she means by that. And we, she and I agreed, when you reach out to somebody to ask them or impose on them for business, we all hate that. And I call that a cold call. So I'd say, don't do that. But when you've read an article about someone who's doing something really cool, or you saw somebody on television this happening recently, I, I saw a product on Shark Tank and I thought it was really cool. And so I, I sent an email and I said, you know, you know , hi John, I saw you on Shark Tank with this really fascinating, whatever it was widget. Um, congratulations for doing that. I do a lot of work in this area and could imagine introducing this product to some of my clients. I'd love to talk with you more about it. And the word, that word is engaging people. And when , and I do that all the time, whether it's an author whose book I've read, or someone who was mentioned in USA Today or the New York Times, and about 50% , maybe 60% of the people I reach out to are happy to respond when I tell them why I'm reaching out. And it's to talk about something that has value to both of us. That it's not a sell , not a sell , and something I just wanna underscore and , and then move on business development these days , um, take the word sell out of your equation and replace it with assisting that today, selling in a vacuum doesn't feel comfortable for any of us. We hate those cold calls when we're eating dinner, but if somebody has a need and you offer to assist, now it's a person to person transaction. And then two people are connecting and connection during these difficult times is especially important. So stop selling , connecting, be relevance and reach out to people who are interesting to you. And if they respond terrific . And if they don't, that's okay too .

Speaker 1:

So , Karen , I love what you, what , what have you found in Covid? What has given you an edge or what have you found successful that others , um, can try?

Speaker 3:

So , uh, I I , I really love what you just said, Karen, and so Delphine, I'm gonna answer your question by going back to what, to what Karen just said. Perfect. Because I think, you know, one of the fundamental components of practice development is to put yourself in the position of the other person. So, and I , and I think this is fundamental to what Karen just said, you know, what would be interesting to this person? What would get their attention? What would they see be , see as helpful? What would assist them? And that , you know, that's how she's putting together her reach out . And, and we try to say the same thing , um, with any of our business development efforts. And I think, you know, attorneys have this tendency to be thorough, which is can be great when you're analyzing a problem, but is not great for these type of re reach outs. And so, for example, I have a colleague that says, you know, ex-client might be interested in this new development. And I say , yes, you're right . I think you should reach out to her and let her know about that. Do not send her eight paragraphs about it. That's , that's one of the worst things you can do. She doesn't have time to read that. She's stressed, she's overwhelmed, she's got so much to do as she runs this health system. Think about her position and what would assist her to use Karen's word, which I think is fabulous, what would assist her? So you take that and you do the phone call, or the text or the email or whatever makes sense for that relationship and say, Hey, you know, I think that you may be interested in this new development. Here's a sentence or two on it. Here's a link to something more. If you'd like to read it, I'd love to chat about it, if that's helpful to you. You know, let me know, keep it really simple so that they can digest it quickly and respond. But in the end, it really comes back to what Karen just described, which is, how can you assist them ? And that should drive all of your communications.

Speaker 1:

Hey , it's a great point. You're not, you don't wanna add something else to their list. Add another client alert that they have to wade through, solve their problem. And if their problem is, you know, where do I go out to dinner in Martha's Vineyard? Or if the problem is, you know, where do I, how do I count for my Cares Act funding? You're providing a solution, not another to do on their end. Karen, what else?

Speaker 2:

What one of the things, you know, when, when we were prepping for this fabulous call , um, we realized that the three of us could talk about this for days and <laugh> . And so before , um, before we get to the close, the , you used the word opportunity , um, Delphine and, and I, I just wanna make sure that I , um, chime in on the word opportunity. Well , we've talked about covid and , um, online education and all kinds of things. They've been plaguing us. An opportunity has arisen , um, that has both pain and opportunity with it. Um, and that's the , the murder of George Floyd and other horrendous events that have raised our , um, awareness as white people. The three of us are, are white women , um, about racial inequity. And as we talk about business development, I just wanna underscore that this awareness that I hope my white colleagues and friends have , um, gives us a responsibility. And that responsibility is to expand the people with whom we're working to be reaching out to other associates and partners who we may not typically have reached out to because we've stayed within our white affinity group . And to be aware of our clients who are expanding in areas that are involving , uh, people of color and consumer groups and services that need and must be more attentive to customers of color, that this is our responsibility and business development and client development, which is so much more powerful when we collaborate, is even more powerful with people who think differently , uh, have different backgrounds and different experiences. And so I underscore with all of my clients, and since you've given me this opportunity, I'm gonna do it to say we as white people have responsibility to bring in our colleagues , uh, of different racial backgrounds , uh, and to learn from them and to work with them to make this a different world. Uh , and business development is an advancer of lawyers careers. Let's make opportunities equal.

Speaker 3:

I'm so glad you

Speaker 1:

Yeah . Go . I think it's , Jenny and I are gonna say the same thing and that we're so glad you're, you're raising this, but Jenny , you, you were spot first, please. And this could be another seven podcast, so stay tuned.

Speaker 3:

Exactly. No, Karen , I'm so glad that you raised that . And I , and I , I can't emphasize the importance of it enough. And you know, in many of the ways that we've been talking about business development as a marathon, not a sprint, I think for us with white privilege, we need to be looking in the same way every day to see what we can individually do to fight racism. And that may be speaking up when you hear something that's inappropriate, that may be examining your own behaviors to say, when have I not reached out enough? And I think as you're putting together your teams to service clients, be very conscious about not only putting together diverse teams, but actually making sure that everyone is meaningfully involved, meaningfully involved. Not just name on the list , but here , I'm, I I want you to be part of this team with me. We haven't worked together before. Tell me about yourself. Let me tell you about myself. Here's what we're gonna try to do. What are your thoughts on that? And then let's make this pitch together, or let's serve this client together. Um, I think one of the things that we talked about on a , on our , on a previous call was the idea of thinking big about these issues, but acting small. And I think it applies in , in , in this way as well. Meaning think about those small actions that you can take every day that have meaningful impact.

Speaker 1:

That's a , that's a great point because it is small. It's the , there's the systemic and then there's the ask. There's just making it happen. And I do think that in certain ways it covid has the possibility of becoming a client development equalizer. Um , for example, you know , golf tournaments, but I don't, I don't play golf very well, not well enough that I would actually volunteer to play with clients. Um, and in the summer, I find that all the client development, or many of the clients are asking play golf. So even if I work with those clients, I opt out now , somebody could say, you could learn how to play golf. Sure. Um, and then I find that most of my colleagues who just in these golf tournaments are men. Um, so, you know, this is an opportunity for us to also brainstorm and think about how do we structure client development. I'm posing that question , um, for all of us to think about, to address white privilege to address , um, the exclusion of women in just the structural programs. Um, and , and I'm not saying that there aren't plenty of women who are fantastic golfers. Um, I'm just using some of the sort systemic issues that, that have been challenging , um, as, as an opportunity. Cuz I really think it , it can be if we seize it. Um, and I think that goes back to our mindset. And I'm gonna, you know, just make some final comments and then ask you to , what I've heard are two main themes. The one is mindset. It's focusing on the personal, it's connecting, it's building your building , uh, putting yourself in the position of the other person that this is a journey. You know, really taking time to say what is the right mindset? Getting yourself ready, yourself pumped, whatever it is to go along this journey and thinking about what am I doing? What's my purpose? You know, and my purpose is to connect human relations and then to take those small steps, you know, okay, that's the overall and then the small steps to Karen , you know , organization 15 minutes a day to break it down so it doesn't seem overwhelming. And to be mindful and intentional about it. And when I think, you know, 25 of your relations, that might seem daunting, but when Karen breaks it down and you have eight people a month, all of a sudden, eight people a month sounds Google even if you're juggling work and, and 12 other responsibilities. Um, so, and I think part of that being mindful is what are you trying to accomplish? You're also trying to accomplish that. You are expanding your group and being intentional. Um, so thank you both. And, and Karen, please share your final thoughts , uh, you know , uh, golden nuggets of advice and then you, Jenny as well.

Speaker 2:

I guess my, my last statement is new marketplaces have opened up , um, areas of laboratory building, online education , uh, manufacturing, coming back to the United States. If you feel stuck and your particular industry focus isn't moving, shift it slightly and ask, how are the people that I do work with my clients or the my ideal clients , what are they dealing with right now? And how can I move slightly to focus on what their needs are or the way they're positioning themselves in the marketplace?

Speaker 1:

Wow , that's great. Well , and on that , that's, that's thought provoking. How can I move slightly? We're not talking about a revolutionary move. So you go from, I'm a healthcare regulatory attorney. I'm not now I was an environmental attorney, but how can I move slightly? I love it. I love it. Jenny , your thoughts.

Speaker 3:

Yep . I and that's a great , um, I love that conceptually, and I relate it to the word that I always try to keep in mind, which, if there's any friends , fans listening to this, they'll recognize the, the episode where Ross was trying to get the couch up, up the stairs with his friends, and the word is pivot. Be willing to pivot. So we've all had to pivot at points in our career to learn new things. We've had to pivot when we've , um, have new clients. We, a as Karen mentioned, with new market areas, we may need to pivot our areas of expertise. And then I think Covid obviously has caused us all to pivot in certain ways as well. And so resist the urge to bury in your hole and wait for Covid to be over and instead look at it as an improv actor might do. And I, I use that reference, I learned it from Karen Huff at improv ve years ago, but the answer should be yes. And okay, so yes, this is happening and here's what I'm gonna do. Be willing to pivot in that way. And I think if you, you know, to go back to your comment, Delphine about mindset, I think if that's your mindset, you will figure out how to serve your clients well during covid, you will figure out how to grow your business During covid, you will figure out how to juggle all the balls in the air. That doesn't mean it's gonna be easy, but you will figure it out if you have the willingness to pivot when you need to.

Speaker 1:

And we're healthcare attorneys, I mean, this is an opportunity like, like no, you know, it hasn't happened in a hundred years to serve our clients . There isn't well business in this country that isn't being affected by covid and in the transformation of healthcare . So this is really a time too , I think seizes the opportunity and, and really help not, you know, it's not just about us. It's not just about , uh, our industry. This is a higher, a higher calling. And to be able to offer that assistance, I is gonna make all of us better off as we, as we navigate these really difficult and disruptive clients . So I wanna thank you both , uh, your, your insight. You know, I, I hope everybody's already jotting down both their mindset and getting together their list of 25 , um, four months. That's manageable. You can do it. I know we're all, all type A and competitive, so I wouldn't be surprised if the audience decided to do it in two months. Um, and thank you to a H l a thank you to Goodwin for , um, the opportunity for me to be here hosting. And please look for future webcast. We have a whole series coming out, practical tips to make your practice , uh, highly successful and to enjoy doing it while you are. So again, thank you .