BY ELSIE OYOO
Professional networking consultant, Terry Bean suggests that there are certain professionals who should always be in your networking circle for you to have an enriching interconnectedness experience. Your lawyer is one such professional. There are several reasons why cultivating professional rapport with your lawyer will stand you in good stead.
They are a good source of leads for customers and suppliers
While giving you legal advice, your lawyer gets to have a pretty good grasp of the workings of your business. Conscientious Lawyers gain such knowledge of each of their client’s businesses. They are thus well placed to sell your best points to their clients and other professionals they know – without violating client confidentiality. They can also refer you to just the service provider you need.
Also count on your lawyer to give or get you the right referral because for a longtime, the Law Society of Kenya had banned any sort of advertising by lawyers. Although the Society passed the Advocates (Marketing and Advertising) Rules in 2014, these only permit lawyers to engage in limited advertising. Thus, referrals remain the primary mode through which lawyers gain visibility, giving them ample opportunity to sharpen their referral marketing skills.
They act as a bridge between your businesses and the government
In the course of their work, lawyers often forge working relationships with government bodies such as the police, courts, registries and regulators. These relationships coupled with their experience in dealing with the government enable your lawyer to efficiently assist you even beyond your legal instructions to them, in obtaining the services and information you need. This would save you the headache that usually goes with interacting with these bodies.
Additionally, your lawyer can organise seminars and workshops, which bring together the government and industry players giving you a chance to interact with your regulator and have your concerns addressed. These forums also give the government bodies a chance to demystify their policies and practices to their users.
Lastly, you may one day have a run in with the law for a minor traffic offence. In the absence of automated systems of fining as exist in more developed economies, nothing is more reassuring in such somber moments as having your lawyer on your speed dial. Even if they specialise in property or commercial law, they are sure to know another lawyer who can run to your aid.
They give you valuable insights
It makes sense to bounce ideas off your lawyer. They are after all your trusted advisor. The catch is that you may only benefit from some of this off-the-cuff advice in more informal conversations, thus the importance of reaching out regularly.
Imagine that you are toying with the idea of starting to import cars. As you tell your lawyer the idea without necessarily seeking legal advice, they may remember that amendments to the tax laws are in the offing. Such a piece of information, early on would equip you to decide accordingly. Lawyers also have ways of knowing which deals are not above board in their respective specialisations, which lawyers and agents to steer clear of and other street smart knowledge that no one will ever tell you in an official legal opinion.
They may turn into other types of connections
Nelson Mandela started out as a lawyer; so did Obama and 24 other US presidents. Closer home, a sizeable number of Kenyan politicians are lawyers. All judges and magistrates are lawyers as well as most chairmen of constitutional commissions.
There is thus a possibility of your lawyer branching off into another field. Although you would have lost a legal advisor, you would have added a judge, public prosecutor, or Member of Parliament into your network. This is not such a bad trade off considering how hard it is to come by these other professionals and their networks. By diversifying your professional network in this way, your lawyer may just open new doors for you in the future.
They raise your profile
In the 2013 movie, “Life of a King” when Eugene Brown’s daughter meets him after a long time apart, she tells him that she’s starting out as a lawyer and he exclaims, “my daughter is a lawyer!” This in part reflects the esteem in which the profession is held, despite its struggles.
In this competitive world, you need such people on your side. It shows the world that you mean business. When others know that you rely on the advice of a reputable lawyer, they will think twice before offering you legally preposterous propositions, effectively keeping the sharks off.
Networking with your lawyer and other professionals brings positive outcomes when you are clear on your goals and you consistently dedicate adequate time and energy to it. So go ahead and make your professional networking strategy or dust it off to complement your business marketing efforts. Also remember that for networking to work for you, before you get value, be willing to give value.