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Create Legal Annual Reports for Your Clients

By Jordan Furlong

We all know it’s much easier to generate new business from current clients than to go out and get brand new clients. But how to go about it? Here’s today’s suggestion: Create a Legal Annual Report for your best client.

Even if your client is big enough to produce its own annual report, that report likely makes little or no mention of legal issues. Smaller businesses (and individuals, of course) don’t generate anything of the sort. But every client would benefit from an annual assessment of its legal health, a law-focused overview of the markets or environments in which it operates, and recommendations for steps to ensure its ongoing legal health.

What to Include in an Annual Report

Here are some ideas on what an annual legal report might include:

  1. State of the Client. Take a snapshot of the client’s current circumstances and short- and long-term goals. If you’re not sure what they are, this is an excellent opportunity to find out. Ask your client to complete a brief online questionnaire, and follow up with a 30-minute personal interview. This will give you all the information you need, and your client will almost certainly be impressed by your interest and initiative.
  2. Legal Issues of the Past 12 Months. Identify and describe law-related issues that the client has faced over the past year and how they were addressed or resolved. (For each issue, note whether the concern has been met and if not, its likely date of resolution). This would be a very good place to mention your own involvement in addressing these issues, reminding the client of what you’ve done for them lately.
  3. Risks and Remedies in the Next 12 Months. Now look forward. Based on the first two sections, identify and prioritize law-related matters on the immediate horizon that pose risks (or promise rewards) to the client. Be specific about whether the issues can realistically be addressed in the short, medium or long term, and give a ballpark estimate of timelines and prices. Every item you list is a potential source of new business for you.
  4. Resources and Best Practices. End the annual report with some takeaways: six tips for effective tax planning, four things never to do to an employee, five steps to prepare for electronic discovery, and so forth. Attach an appendix with articles you’ve written on relevant topics, as well as items published in other media that address emerging issues in the client’s environment.

The report should run just 10 to 15 pages, professionally edited and designed. A customized cover page featuring the client’s name and logo will increase the prominence of its eventual location. Then all you need to do is phone up and ask, “Anything in the Annual Report I can do for you today?”

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Categories: Business Development, Client Service, Daily Dispatch
Originally published February 21, 2011
Last updated August 13, 2019
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Jordan Furlong Jordan Furlong

Jordan Furlong is a leading analyst of the global legal market and forecaster of its future development. A writer and consultant, he helps lawyers and law firms navigate the extraordinary changes in the legal marketplace. His book, “Evolutionary Road: A Strategic Guide to Your Law Firm’s Future” is available in the Attorney at Work bookstore. Read his blog Law21 and watch for his new book, “Law is a Buyer’s Market: Building a Client-First Law Firm in a Brand New Legal World.” Follow Jordon @Jordan_Law21.

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