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How will a water shortage impact your business?
LORIMER: In litigation, much of our work is one-of-a kind projects. But the way you build a relationship and loyalty on one of those projects is you get face time with the client on a regular basis. We have weekly or bi-weekly updates with a client either on the phone or in person on every piece of litigation we have so that the client has buy in into everything we’re doing. The client can say, “I want to put on the brakes.” Or, “Do more of that.” And like Paul was saying, a lot of it is not billable. A lot of it you just have to donate to the cause.
DAVIES: One of the best things we can do in litigation is to make sure the client is educated about the process and thoroughly prepared as to what is coming and what is expected of them. And we need to involve the client as much as possible as they get ready to give depositions or assist in responding to written discovery, or generating discovery for that matter. It’s our job to make sure they understand each step of the way, especially the trial, if the case goes that way, and give them the opportunity to make informed decisions and direct the litigation the way they want it to go.
What about changes in corporate compliance requirements—how is that impacting the way we do business?
PINEGAR: It’s made it more expensive for our corporate clients to do business. And they’ve had to consult with us on things they didn’t worry too much about before. There’s been a lot more regulation coming out of the SEC, and that is partly because of Dodd-Frank and the requirements that the act put on the SEC and other agencies to produce new regulations. So it’s been costly for our corporate clients to do business, and that has changed the way they approach the relationship.
Brent talked about investing and doing a lot of free work or putting in the face time with the client—in my practice, at least in the corporate area, that’s been the norm now for about five years. It does build a lot more loyalty, but it also creates an expectation that there won’t be a bill every time they talk to you.
GAYLORD: In our company, we have a corporate consumer finance group that has been established as a result of the financial downturn in the banking industry and Dodd-Frank. What we’ve done is created a blog for the corporate finance group. It is a well-recognized blog that gets us out in front with a lot of clients across the country, and we’ve been able to pick up work because of our expertise in that area.
Overall the downturn has created more business for us because of the new legislation that is out there managing and overseeing those financial institutions. And now they’re all going through Consumer Finance Board regulatory investigations, and we’re picking up many of those engagements simply because of our being at the front end of those consumer finance issues.
What about the local economy? How tied do you feel to the local economy? Or do you feel more regionally or nationally based?
CATAXINOS: For us, it’s a blend. It’s mainly national, Fortune 500-type companies, but quite a bit of international. The third category would be local. But that might just be a function of our practice area.
POS: Our practice has become more regionalized. We did see the phenomenon during the financial crisis where work that was being done on the Coast was not being done in mid-America, and that included Utah. We have several new clients, national clients, that came to us because they felt they could get the same quality of legal services at a substantially reduced cost than going to the Coast.
We do a lot of mining work and we have a lot of international clients, so we do work all over the world, particularly in South America and Asia. So we have that aspect. It’s not the driving part of our business, but it’s a big part of our business.
GAYLORD: We have 13 offices across the country. What we’ve done, particularly in all of our practice groups, is created teams that have somebody with an expertise in a particular area that’s in each office. So if you’re at an L.A. office, you can go to an L.A. client and say, “Look, we have this team of lawyers that are in this general Western area, but if you have work in Salt Lake City, this is the person you ought to communicate with as part of our expertise.”
So again, we’re back to relationships. We create these relationships with the clients and we may have a relationship in an L.A. office, but they may have work in Salt Lake. The next thing you know, you’ve got your partner in L.A. turning to them and saying, “Hey, we’ve got somebody in Salt Lake City who can do it.” That’s been an advantage to us, because we have a global group where we all know we’re part of a bigger team.