In last week’s post I looked at the Top 5 Reasons Clients Switch Firms as recently reported by Wolters Kluner. Conveniently this same Survey also reports on the ‘6 most important criteria in-house consider when evaluating law firms‘ – so here’s a quick look at what they are:
The in-house view
In recent years I have heard it said on a number of occasions that in-house counsel no longer differentiate lawyers/law firms they ask to do work for them on the issue of ‘specialisation’ – it is a given that you know your topic and this merely gives you a seat at the table.
The results of this Survey clearly show that impression to be wrong – specialisation (at 23%) remains top of mind to in-house.
Unfortunately the term used in the Survey is ‘specialisation’ as opposed to ‘niche’. While there may not appear to be much of a difference between these two terms, for many there is and I would be interested to see the results if this was an option.
The fact that a lawyer’s ability to use technology ranks equal top (23%) with specialisation shouldn’t be too much of a surprise in a survey conducted on technology adaptation in law firms.
That said, the use of technology in collaboration efforts should raise some eye-brows as it clearly shows, in my opinion, further evidence that in-house counsel want shared platforms and that knowledge sharing among law firms who continue to develop stand-alone technology platforms are likely wasting their money.
3. Ability to understand client needs
At first the fact that ‘ability to understand client needs‘ came third in the list at 19% surprised me.
But then I thought: not many clients truly know what their needs are – maybe this question would have been better phrased as: ‘Understanding our business/sector?’
4. Price – and 6. AFAs
Price gets 16% of the vote. AFAs gets 9%. If you combined them, they get 25%. And would top the table.
But they are not combined.
They are seperate.
Which make me wonder: Why?
Also: if your law firm is really offering value – price, whether it be hourly rates or AFAs, would be the last thing that matters.
5. Process innovation
I found the fact that process innovation only got 10% of the vote interesting, because if you read the rest of this survey a core message is that law firms need to get better at demonstrating efficiencies.
This result somewhat undermines that message.
The law firm view
I was pleasantly surprised how consistent the law firm view was to that of their in-house clients.
Of course there will always be one significant difference of opinions between law firms and their clients (in the law firm’s mind) as to why they were chosen: ‘Price’.
And what this Survey shows, as many before it have, is that law firms need (finally) to start moving away from that needle.
As always, these just represent my thoughts and always interested to hear your views.