Inherent in the approach described above is a deep and thorough knowledge of the client. But, when presenting this advice to lawyers, the oft-asked question is: "What is the best way to gain the requisite in-depth knowledge needed to be able to serve as a business counselor?" The following list describes some things you can do, but beware -- most of this should be done on your dime, not the client`s—consider it "investment time":
- Read, read, read—Read everything you can about your client including things such as annual reports, company marketing pieces, the company`s Web site, etc. The important point is—don`t limit your reading to the documents pertaining to the particular case or transaction at hand.
- Interview—Spend time interviewing people who serve a key role with your client (e.g., department chairs, Board of Directors, CEO, etc.) to learn about their jobs and the direction and/or challenges the company is facing. A side benefit is that this will help to start deepening the layers of relationships within the client company.
- Attend meetings—With your client`s approval, attend internal meetings such as manager`s or Board meetings (clarify up front if you`re doing this in your capacity as counselor or if it`s your investment time). Also, participate in regular shareholder conferences and hear what the analysts are saying about your client.
- Industry participation—Get involved with associations and groups that service your client`s industry. Attend conferences, subscribe to publications, and participate in events. Attending events or conferences with your client is a great way to spend quality time together.
- Just ask—Finally, ask your clients—let them know of your interest and desire to learn as much as possible about their business and/or industry, and you will likely get excellent and worthwhile suggestions.
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