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Best Practice: Law firm client development: Obtaining additional work from existing clients

Posted on August 24, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

Asked and Answered

By John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

Q.  I am the chair of our three person management committee. Our firm, now entering second generation, is a 17 attorney firm in Kansas City, Missouri. We represent businesses and other institutional clients. We have several of our founding partners in their 70s and as they phase back and slow down we are discovering that the younger generation of partners have not developed client development skills. What should we be doing to get more business? We are not sure we even know how?

A.  Research conducted over the years by numerous research organizations has shown that on average it costs five times as much (dollars/time investment) to get new clients than it does to get more business from existing clients. It just makes good business sense to leverage existing relationships.

Institutional clients are reducing the number of law firms that they use. According to BTI Consulting Group, corporations in the Fortune 1000 list are using 20% fewer core law firms than they did a year earlier. As a result fewer firms will be getting work from these companies and they will likely be the firms that successfully cross-sell their practices.

Recommendation From a Fortune 500 Client

Recently I was doing a telephone interview with the general counsel of a Fortune 500 company for our law firm client and I asked him if there was an opportunity for the law firm to get additional work in a practice area in which the company had no experience with the law firm previously and if an opportunity existed what the firm needed to do to earn the business. Here is his response

Juvenile Incarceration program to air on Illinois Law on Aug. 30

Posted on August 23, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

“Juvenile Incarceration: Alternatives/Placements/Visitation/Release,” a half-hour program produced by Illinois Law, will air on Chicago Access Network Television, Channel 21 in Chicago, on Tuesday, August 30 at 10 p.m. Illinois Law is a cable production of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA).

Appearing on the show are (from left) Raymond G. Stubner, deputy chief of Juvenile Probation Services for the Department of Probation & Court Services in DuPage County; program moderator Hon. Cheryl Cesario, a judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County; and Hon. Thomas J. Riggs, a judge in the 18th Judicial Circuit in DuPage County.

CRFC to honor former Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald

Posted on August 19, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

The Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago will be honoring former Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald and Kraft Foods at its 2011 Bill of Rights in Action Award Benefit on Wednesday, Sept. 14. The CRFC Board of Directors gives the Bill of Rights in Action Award to individuals and organizations who privde models of citizenship to our nation's young people.

More information is available at

A luncheon with Lilly Ledbetter to support Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network

Posted on August 19, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

A luncheon and VIP reception will be held with Lilly Ledbetter on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at the Renaissance Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan. Ledbetter is the namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 -- the first bill signed into law by President Barack Obama.

Ms. Ledbetter joins a growing list of visionary, ground-breaking women recognized by The Network as “Women of Influence” - namely, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, Illinois Dept. of Family and Healthcare Services Director Julie Hamos, and Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon.

Find out more and register at

ISBA Statehouse Review for the week of August 18

Posted on August 18, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

ISBA Director of Legislative Affairs Jim Covington reviews legislation on DNA from registered sex offenders and some arrestees (PA 97-383), juvenile justice (PA 97-362), Open Meetings Act-audits (PA 97-318), FOIA and park districts (97-385), FOIA and "personally identifiable information" (PA-97-342) and Mortgage Foreclosure Article (97-329).

Join John Locallo on his ISBA President's trip to Argentina and Brazil

Posted on August 18, 2011 by Chris Bonjean

SBA President John G. Locallo is excited to personally invite you, a guest, your family and friends to join him in South America for the Annual ISBA President’s trip May 5-12, 2012. Guests will spend a week in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The trip will be extra special as President Locallo has intentionally left plenty of time for you to explore the two cities on your own or with his sister and brother-in-law -- who lived there. He has also arranged a local expert to be on hand in both cities to help you thoroughly enjoy your time. The hotels are centrally located to maximize walking and President Locallo has a special event planned in each city to show off the local culture and cuisine. There will also be a full-time escort from Carrousel Meetings & Incentives to help with anything you need while in South America.

For more information and to register please visit the ISBA Argentina/Brazil President’s Trip website at

New Illinois Bar Journal archives -- over 1,000 legal articles are just a click away

Posted on August 17, 2011 by Mark S. Mathewson

Have you ever wondered whether there's an Illinois Bar Journal article on, say, grandparents' visitation? Rule 213? The Illinois estate tax? Or did you see something in a recent issue -- you don't remember which one -- that you weren't interested at the time but are very interested in now?

Then you need to visit the new, improved online IBJ archives, which contain evey issue from the most current (August 2011) through November '98 -- 154 issues and well over 1,000 individual articles, columns and other items. The entire archive is keyword searchable, and everything back through 2005 appears in our cumulative subject index (we'll eventually build it back through November '98). There are title and author indexes for the whole archive, too. It's a great research tool, and it's only fully available to ISBA members.

Sanctions for spoliation

Posted on August 17, 2011 by Mark S. Mathewson

When your case rests on the X-rays and you learn the X-rays were thrown away, that's not a good day. Loss or destruction of evidence -- "spoliation" (one of my favorite legal terms) -- can make it impossible to bring or defend a lawsuit.

One option when that happens is to sue for spoliation of evidence, a bona fide tort in its own right. Another is to seek sanctions against the offender(s), and that's the option Judge Barb Crowder explores in the latest Trial Briefs, newsletter of the ISBA Civil Practice and Procedure Section. "[K]nowing the potential and most frequently used sanctions will assist counsel in evaluating what steps to take" when evidence is lost or destroyed, she writes. Read her analysis.