Introducing the Client Service Director to the legal world.
In the relationship between law firms and their clients, the relationship is typically in the hand of one of the partners. In many cases this will be the partner who was involved when the relationship originated. The question is however if this is the optimal way to manage the relationship. The partner who acts as the client partner has a personal interest to keep the relationship as exclusive as possible. This way the partner gets all or most of the revenue in his or her name. Secondly, if the partner at some point should want to make a lateral move to an other law firm, it is important to have a portable book of business. The more exclusive the relationship, the more likely it is that in such event the client will follow the partner.
Seen from the client perspective in most of the cases it is not ideal if the relationship is overseen by a partner who is also a practicing lawyer in a specific area. The legal specialism becomes a hinderance in discussing the broader client legal needs and opportunities. Ideally form the client perspective the relationship should be managed by someone who is equally broad as the General Counsel.
This is where a Client Service Director could emerge as a new rol within law firms. The CSD would hold the over-all relationship with the client. The CSD would be responsible for the pricing arrangements and for identifying how the firm could best - proactively - help the client reach its business goals by bringing in the right legal expertise at the right point in time.
The CSD will typically not be a practicing lawyer. Experience as a lawyer would be extremely helpful by does not need to be a prerequisite.
It is important to clearly distinguish between the role of the Client Service Director who is responsible for client management and the role of the partner who will always remain responsible for matter management.