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When outside counsel pitch their services to GCs, they tout their firms’ stellar legal work, experience and cost-efficiency. Top in-house lawyers, regardless of gender, typically have similar professional needs. But what’s the best way to make these pitches? Should female GCs be courted on the golf course, over a brisk breakfast meeting or at a family-friendly outing? That’s where gender differences, however slight, come in. Here are a few tips on building relationships with female clients. � Keep it short. Every successful professional woman I know is desperately short of time. Women want and need every activity to be compressed and efficient, including entertainment. Although the number of female executives and professionals who play golf is increasing, I have always suspected that a primary reason that golf has not historically been a businesswoman’s sport is that few women are willing to commit five hours to it on a regular basis. I assume that my female clients are desperately short of time and may not be able or willing to commit half the day to an activity, but might be willing and even eager to commit up to two hours to an activity that they consider to be a good use of their time. � Give your female client an opportunity for personal or professional growth. Many successful professional women put their own needs last, and deal first with the demands of their careers and their families. However, even women who are reluctant to take time for themselves are willing to do so if it enhances their personal or professional growth. For example, we recently combined a lunch for our female clients with a private viewing of the marvelous traveling exhibit “The Forbidden City” at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. We also recently hosted a wine tasting at which a well-known wine enthusiast spoke to our female clients, teaching the distinguishing features of each of the wines we tasted and pairing them with various foods. Both events were well attended and finished in two hours flat. � Pay attention to detail. Many women notice and appreciate details. The name tags for our “Forbidden City” event had our guests’ names translated into Chinese. Many of our guests took the name tags as keepsakes and now display them in their offices. Also, pay attention when people share their personal preferences. Before a recent family trip to Disney World, a client mentioned in passing that Goofy had always been her favorite character. While there, I purchased a Goofy pen for her. The gift was obviously inexpensive, but seems to have been much appreciated by someone who had forgotten that she had even mentioned the detail. � Assess the family situation. Determine early on what your client’s family situation is, and, if she has a family, whether she permits herself the luxury of being entertained without them. The new general counsel of one of our corporate clients told us recently that she had three young daughters and had no time in her life for anything but work and family. Although she said that she appreciated our invitations to social events, she had no time to accept any of them. However, when we extended an invitation to see a Cirque du Soleil performance, she and her family happily accepted. It’s important to note whether or not women have kids. Some women have grown children, some have small children. Women with younger children want one of two things when being entertained: to include their children or to get away from their kids. Find out which is true of the women with whom you are working. Women who have no children or whose children are grown often are passionately involved in one or more charitable, community or professional organizations. What is important to our clients is important to us. We support organizations that are meaningful to these women both by lending financial support and by attending key events, which are meaningful ways to get to know a valued client. Linda Addison is a senior partner at Houston-based Fulbright & Jaworski.

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