I met with my lawyers this week whilst at work in the UK. That’s not as worrying a statement as it would have been when I worked in big Pharma. It’s another intrinsic difference between CROs and big Pharma. I can’t actually remember ever meeting with a lawyer in big Pharma and yet I interact all the time with my lawyers today. It’s a different business. We do contract research. We have contracts with everyone and contracts inevitably involve lawyers.
Like everyone else I work with today, our lawyers are experienced, passionate and focussed…but they are also engaging, inspiring and enjoyable. Certainly that’s how I feel when I work with them…that’s how I felt after my legal meetings last week.
Whenever we meet, there are always situations and opportunities that we need to discuss. People, projects and partner companies…countries, complexities and complications. Laws are different in different countries. People are similar. Opportunities big or small can appear anywhere…as do problems. Good or bad, simple or complex, we need to be able to respond quickly and efficiently. We need good lawyers. We have great lawyers.
I was relieved that my legal meetings this week were routine. It was an opportunity for us to meet in person rather than by telephone. It allowed us to talk longer and in more detail across a wider range of topics…engaging and enjoyable!
It was also opportunity for me to learn and understand more. Both of which I always enjoy. About people and about experiences and about me…about strategies and ideas we are contemplating or considering. It’s an opportunity to get a different perception, to hear different views and to listen to different opinions…inspiring and enjoyable!
I am always interested in learning from other companies and other industries. The analogies and similarities can sometimes be tangential, but are so often helpful. Teamwork, strategy, culture, objectives, reward, incentives, leadership, marketing, commercialisation, business development. The list goes on and on. All themes that underpin so many industries…from sports to arts…through coffee and airlines…to law.
The story that engaged and helped me most from my legal discussions this week was how legal firms seek to win work – especially big legal firms and in particular large packages of work. This interested me as much as it surprised me. The relevance was immediately apparent, but I realised that I had never thought about how lawyers win work. OK – maybe not such a surprise then…
We were discussing the various ways our legal team could directly help influence our business strategy and success, in addition to their ownership of implementation of all legal matters. My lawyers asked how we best win opportunity to work with our partner companies. I guessed immediately that this was a leading question. I went ‘open and generic’ with my first response. I wasn’t sure if I was about to be told off or encouraged.
The truth was neither. In the subsequent discussion I learned about lawyers and the business of law. And I rapidly (but not immediately) recognised the analogies to our industry that were being deftly highlighted to me. All legal firms – big legal firms – have the capabilities and capacities necessary to advance and win most any legal case. So how do they differentiate? How do they win work?
They sell themselves. They market individuals. They market their lawyers…their individual and collective experience and expertise. The lawyers you meet when you are looking to award a legal contract are the individuals you will work with.
This makes sense – the one true uniqueness of an organisation are the individuals working in that organisation
It is the people. It is the relationships.