Acritas’ Sharplegal Survey: Vive La Différence – or you’ll lose work!

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The days of the male dominated culture in law firms are numbered if said firms want to have any chance of continuing to win work from the growing number, as well as importance, of female in-house general counsel according to the latest research undertaken by Acritas’ Sharplegal (an annual global legal market survey of over 2,000 general counsel) revealing how differently male and female buyers approach the purchase of legal services.

Bottom-line take out from the covering article – on the Acritas website – announcing the survey result that should get every male law firm partner and their business development team’s thinking caps on is this:

Firms that are able to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of their female client’s business and her needs also stand to gain higher levels of favorability from her – an all-important step on the path to winning work.

This statement is also directly reflective of Lucy Siebert’s (international counsel at Australia’s Telstra) comments at the recent Legal Week Asia regional ‘Corporate Counsel Forum’, held at the end of November 2014, where she stated that:

We [Telstra] specifically look to see that they’re ensuring the best possible talent pool for us – not just white Anglo-Saxon males. We’ve got a very strong diversity policy and so we expect that to be something that is also important to our panel firms.

Crucially, law firms who are looking to win a greater share of work from female in-house counsel should note:

When asked what drove the likelihood to recommend a firm, a much higher proportion of women than men spoke about responsiveness as a deciding factor.

And specifically that:

Not only was it the quality of communication that mattered to female in-house counsel, but also the speed and level of interaction they experienced.

Interestingly, the survey also reports that:

43% of women working in senior in house legal roles said they used LinkedIn on a daily or weekly basis, compared with just a third of men. Furthermore, only a quarter of women said they never used the social network, compared to two fifths of men, suggesting that new business approaches to women may be better made online than ‘on the golf course’.

A final ‘thought for the day’ is the following by Lisa Hart Shepherd, CEO of Acritas [commenting on the survey findings]:

“A change in thinking and culture is needed if men want to impress an increasingly influential group of female in-house counsel who value business understanding and efficient communication over reputation, personal relationships and trust when choosing their preferred legal partner.”

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