In recent years, there has been significant growth in the number of dedicated “Chief Client Service Officer” (CCSO)-related positions within leading law firms. To date, approximately 35 of the top 500 law firms have a full-time, in-house, dedicated CCSO professional. (Most major law firms have had full-time, in-house marketing and business development (MBD) department staff in place for years. Part of their responsibilities may be client service, but MBD staff usually have many other demands on their time and are not 100% dedicated to the client service/experience role. For example, the main focus of many traditional law firm Chief Client Development Officers and Chief Marketing & Business Development Officers (CMBDOs) is to manage all marketing efforts, identify and coordinate leads, assist with (and sometimes directly participate in) RFPs, work with lawyers to help develop proposal strategies and development plans, and monitor and manage new client development (to ensure that multiple lawyers are not going after the same client in a disjointed manner)).
While some CMBDOs and MBD staff members participate in client-service-centric projects and tasks, client service is most often not their sole focus. Further, MBD positions and roles most often end once the client comes into the firm and may not include much (if any) direct client communication. In many major law firms, there is still no single, dedicated client service professional focused on existing and new client relationships from the cradle to the grave.
Titles of these professionals within the world’s largest law firms vary, as do their responsibilities, but related titles include: Chief Client Officer, Chief Client Relations Officer, Chief Client Experience Officer, Chief Client Value Officer, Chief Client Ambassador, and, as referenced above, Chief Client Service Officer. Some firms have a Director and/or Manager employed in similar roles.
Being responsive to clients’ needs and expectations continue to be an ongoing challenge most law firms face. “It’s like a game of whack-a-mole,” says Amanda Brady, Partner and Global Practice Leader of Major, Lindsey & Africa’s Law Firm Management practice. “The law firm professionals in these evolving roles are often chasing a moving target as they try to help their lawyers and firms up the game on client service, understand exactly what ‘client service’ means to each client, and whom should be the involved in the relationship. The good news is, however, that firms are now taking this seriously and are investing in talented people to lead these initiatives, giving them resources and making this a cultural imperative at their firms.”
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