As a YEC Escape sponsor, Craig Spierer, a partner at Harris Beach, had some very specific goals: to meet successful young entrepreneurs who could enlighten him on market trends and be of help to his existing clients, and potentially become clients themselves.
“The different practice groups in our firm have business development money allocated to advance specific goals and initiatives,” Craig says. But the firm is strict about ROI. What would be the value of spending two days at Powder Mountain in Utah with 50 young entrepreneurs?
“I was able to sell the firm on the idea that I was going to have one-on-one connections,” says Craig. “This wasn’t just spending money to have your name on a banner or a website. It was being in an exclusive setting with successful entrepreneurs with decision-making power who understand the value of quality legal counsel.” Craig knew that building personal rapport with YEC members was far more valuable than, say, going to a conference and handing out business cards. “The idea was to meet YEC members, learn about their businesses, and see if there’s value I can bring to them,” he says.
“The way [YEC leadership] approaches running the community also played into our sponsorship,” says Craig. “They really understand and get involved with their members and their businesses, and they’re always looking for synergies and making introductions. So it was more than just being the only attorney in the room — there were also really warm introductions.”
“This wasn’t just spending money to have your name on a banner or a website. It was being in an exclusive setting with successful entrepreneurs with decision-making power who understand the value of quality legal counsel.”
Craig had a jam-packed schedule of informal “office hours,” meeting one-on-one with numerous YEC members at Escape. The goal was not to give specific legal advice but to get insight from them on their various industries, hear about specific challenges they may be facing, and to gain perspective that could be useful to his practice. “There were many folks who came in and had just general questions or wanted to bounce around ideas about the next stages of their business,” he says.
Within a week of leaving Escape, three members reached out to Craig with potential business. “One was looking to raise funds through a combination of debt and equity, was moving very quickly, and needed an attorney,” says Craig. “So we saw immediate benefits from [the YEC Escape sponsorship] not only in leads but with an actual engagement.” Not only were his firm’s ROI goals met, but Craig planted the seeds for ongoing relationships that he believes will ultimately be fruitful.
“I got to know YEC members not just on a professional level, but a personal level,” Craig says. “I believe that the attorney-client relationship is a personal one. Your attorney protects your back, and you want to know the person who’s in the foxhole with you.” He’s still keeping in touch with many of the members who he met at Escape.
Craig has been with Harris Beach since 2015 and describes himself as “essentially an outside general counsel to companies, whether they have in-house counsel or not. I’m the person who can assist them in their day-to-day corporate work.” He works with his clients on all corporate matters through the lifecycle of the company — from formation, to early and later stage capital raises, to exit events. “I see it all,” says Craig. “So I'm able to use that experience, and use events like YEC Escape to really guide my clients as they continue to grow their companies, and try to keep them successful.”