Yesterday I attended the annual Professional Marketing Forum Conference: “Live your brand values and enhance the client experience”. As always, there were many excellent speakers and lots of food for thought – detailed comments will appear in my article in the next edition of Professional Marketing magazine.

But for me, one of the most valuable sessions is where we hear, from the horse’s mouth, what clients really think. Yesterday we heard from Dr Isabel Hacker, associate general counsel Europe for Styron (£5bn spin off global materials company from Dow Chemicals). She previously worked at YUM! Restaurants, General Mills and Haagen-Dazs Shops International having also been at Ashurst and Freshfields and is UK/German qualified.

“There is no value in brands – I’m not looking at their web site or brand. For commercial work it is about relationships. I instruct who I know personally, who I have met at a conference or pitch. But on big transactions I would get a Magic Circle firm as if they are wrong they have bigger liability insurance. Also, non-lawyers such as finance directors have heard of them as they are known outside the legal sector.

If a firm is recommended I would try them out and if happy with the advice I would use them again. The brand must be followed up by a very good service – they need to train the partners and lawyers appropriately so that it is consistent.

City firm advice is very good – I make a personal choice who I like to work with. They need to provide straight answers, find out what the client wants and how they work and how to enhance the overall experience.

I get lots of pitches – often as a pre-read before meetings. It takes time. They are like a brochure with lists of values – it gives an idea of how they think and how they tick. But I want to meet the individuals.

I also want the best advisers in each country. How do you translate the brand into different cultures? How do you keep the quality promise up? I am not using any of my firm’s foreign offices. Sometimes I will use an unimpressive firm if they have a great lawyer”.