Luckily, Michael McDonald, a partner at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton's London office, is filling that gap. RollOnFriday got its claws on McDonald's memo, "How to Superplease Clients," which was sent out to the firm's trainees and associates. The memo lists what they can do to keep external and "internal" clients (e.g., partners) happy. (We asked Cleary for comment, but have not heard back.)
Let me just say, it is quite amusing. Sometimes, McDonald seems so solicitious of clients' needs that he sounds like he's catering to prized poodles. At the same time, though, he's also being very comprehensive—offering about 50 tips on client relations. (RollOnFriday suggests that you "stick [the list] on your fridge.")
McDonald starts off on a somewhat apologetic note, noting that some might find his advice "overly North American and dated." Despite the horror of being one of those eager-to-please Yanks, McDonald says it's time to acknowledge that client are "demanding" these days—"wherever they are located."
Indeed, McDonald fits nicely within the eager-beaver lawyer mode. He tells young lawyers to:
- "Always exceed client expectations."
- "Set realistic deadlines and always exceed them."
- "Come in under budget."
In other words, he's advocating that lawyers overdeliver. Probably not realistic for associates who are already working under tremendous time pressures, though I get his drift.
But McDonald also seems to suggest that lawyers should go to extremes to satisfy the business and personal needs of clients:
- "Remember birthdays/ make it personal!"
- "Assist with personal legal needs."
- "Adjust holiday plans if essential to the client."
- "Be attentive to their personal needs if they are under stress." (RollOnFriday says it's "unclear if this extends to a back rub, a dance, or dressing them up as a baby and feeding them rusks.")
- "Make them look good." (Is that a derivation of the old Vidal Sassoon ad: "If you don't look good, we don't look good"?)
We can poke fun at McDonald's seemingly over-the-top advice on making clients happy, but he's probably on the right track. Probably lots of successful lawyers do all these little personal things, but just don't set them to paper. In a way, I guess McDonald is doing a public service by being so up-front about his methods.
What do you think—is this just old-fashioned suck-up, or is he going to the extreme?
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