3 Questions Featured

8:00pm EDT October 26, 2010

Carl J. Grassi is president of McDonald Hopkins LLC. His professional experience includes being corporate counsel and business adviser to a number of middle-market and growth companies. He frequently speaks on business planning and related topics for business owners, accountants and lawyers.

Q. What can a law firm do to help its business clients come out of the recession on sound financial footing?

The relationship between a law firm and a client should be more than just providing legal services. It should really be almost a partnering relationship, where a law firm will not only assist and better understand the client’s business but be able to help it during these difficult times.

The other thing that law firms should be considering today is continuing to provide value-added services. In our case, some of the things that we do are regular webcasts — we invite our clients to listen on the latest topics affecting their business — various client alerts and regular meetings with our clients to discuss the issues that they’re facing in these challenging economic times.

Q. What services besides legal can law firms provide?

A law firm, under services, can provide counseling, advisory work, various planning from multistate tax planning to regular tax planning. Any of the above, really go beyond the legal services. What’s really key, again, is the law firm and its client has a very close relationship in terms of being able to provide those other advisory services that you might not typically think of a law firm as capable of providing.

Q. How do you build that relationship?

The issue that makes it important is that the client has to be willing to share information that is affecting their business, be it their financial information, what issues that keep them up at night or what challenges they face. In turn, the law firm should be looking out for opportunities for that client besides legal services. They may be able to help them network, find opportunities with new unique customers and avenues of business. To do that, a client really needs to share information they might not otherwise share with their law firm.