Some Thoughts on Value from General Counsel

October 29, 2013 Sarah Levine Meyer

Last week, I attended a General Counsel panel discussion facilitated by the Metro New York Legal Marketing Association (LMA). The panel discussion focused on the concept of defining and delivering value and was aptly titled, “Value – The Key Differentiator”. The panel included:

  • Aric Press (Moderator) – Formerly Editor in Chief of The American Lawyer magazine and currently Vice President and Editor In Chief of ALM, that magazine’s parent company. Aric has spent more than 20 years writing and speaking about the legal profession. His insightful views are sought and valued by many, both inside and outside the profession.
  • David Brill – Executive Vice President and General Counsel at American Stock Transfer & Trust Company, LLC, a mid-sized company that provides services in the areas of stock transfers, proxy solicitation and corporate governance. David is also the 2012-2013 President of the Greater New York Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), and has had considerable involvement with the ACC Value Challenge, an initiative to reconnect the value and the cost of legal services.
  • Anastasia Danias – Senior Vice President and Chief Litigation Officer for the National Football League (NFL), an association of thirty-two professional football teams. Anastasia has been involved with various high-profile NFL matters including mass tort litigation relating to retired player concussions, intellectual property and anti-trust issues, and was named to Sports Business Journal’s “2012 Forty Under 40” for being among “the best young talent in sports business.”
  • Jessica Pollack – Chief Commercial Counsel for Colgate-Palmolive Company, whose products are marketed in over 200 countries and territories throughout the world. Jessica’s present responsibilities include the Global Supply Chain and Procurement organizations. She has also been involved with the company’s Global Treasury function, SEC compliance, Mergers & Acquisitions and providing support for the activities of the Board of Directors.

For those of you who didn’t have the opportunity to attend, here's a quick summary of the 3 points that I found most interesting:

The panel discussed ways to deliver value, including being relevant, making their life easier, being responsive, being proactive, understanding what they owe their stakeholders and helping them to deliver.

  • Making their life easier example: There is tons of stuff out there that they could spend their time reading. They really value when someone sends them something and points out why it is relevant to them. Even if it’s a standard newsletter – going that extra step to say “I really think you’ll find the second article interesting because you also are doing ____”, for example, will often compel them to read the content and appreciate the communication. I’m going to refer to this as Tailored Curation.
  • Being responsive example: When a client reaches out to you, acknowledge the communication right away and give a timeframe within which you’ll have an answer back to them. They expressed how much they hate having to chase someone down. No one wants to have to chase you down. Don’t let yourself get chased down!

Jessica Pollack reminded everyone that the courtship is never over. Even once you've got the business, you still need to operate in courtship mode. She stated that every day is an opportunity to further court your clients. This is a good reminder in business, and in life. After this, I think I’ll write my husband a nice email letting him know that I’m thinking about him…

The GC on the panel pointed out that they are accountable to their stakeholders. No surprise here, but they spoke about the fact that they demonstrate their value, and the value of the work they are doing, by showing what they are working on. This often comes in the form of reports. They really appreciate the firms that go the extra mile and help them deliver those reports by packaging up the activities into a digestible format that the GC can then leverage. Jessica mentioned that some of the firms that she regularly works with actually have the reports and fill in their sections. Anastasia and David thought this was a remarkable idea and nearly gushed over the value it would provide to them.

Even if your firm has done these things before – or is doing them now – it never hurts to be reminded. There is always an opportunity to be doing more, and better.

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Sarah Levine Meyer Managing Director, Client Partnership

As the Managing Director of Client Partnerships at One North, Sarah consults with clients on the creation and execution of strategic programs to enhance their marketing, business development and knowledge management goals. Her expertise lies in understanding the role that digital plays in supporting these efforts. Sarah immerses herself in each of her clients’ unique business landscapes and develops a deep appreciation for their objectives and challenges. She seeks to establish long-term goals and short-term solutions with connected measurement strategies, and provides support for complex internal communications.

  • Favorite color: When I was a little kid and people asked me my favorite color, I’d say, “Rainbow.”
  • Last thing you geeked-out about: I like strategy and logic puzzles and games. A lot. I used to do LSAT questions for fun while my husband was studying for the Bar.

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