2 December 2011 • Volume 64, Number 13

Jim Donovan (of Goldman Sachs) on Client Relationships

Jim Donovan is a managing director at Goldman Sachs and has served in that capacity as an advisor to some of the biggest and most important companies and organizations in the world, including the United States government. He is also a graduate of the law school and its adjunct professor of Corporate Strategy.

His experience and background made him an ideal candidate to give a talk last week entitled “What Every Lawyer Should Know About Client Relationships,” during which he shared experiences and career advice.

“The best way for me to cover a client [is] to cover the client holistically,” Donovan began. What that entailed in the banking industry is analogous to that of the lawyer-client context – “Look at the company; look at the industry; look at what they’re competitors in the industry are doing,” he advised. Then, “extend your conversation [with the client] beyond the mandate you were given and you’ll be surprised by how receptive your client will be.”

Relatedly, Donovan encouraged the students present not to ignore the value of knowing the jargon of the client’s industry because it puts the client at ease and encourages him or her to trust you with more business.

To those intimidated by the challenge of developing client acquisition and cultivation skills, Donovan ended by noting that no one has these skills innately – “They’re purely learned.”



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