Research by the FT and the MPF compares clients’ and law firms’ expectations of each other
The Report – which is based on a survey of 433 respondents in Europe and the US, three-quarters of whom were drawn from corporate clients and one-quarter from law firms – “explores the effectiveness of the corporate relationship between law firms and their clients” by comparing their views across a range of issues. The Report can be downloaded at the FT site here and the accompanying press release can be read here.
Amongst the Report’s key findings are that:
- Law firms struggle more than their clients with embracing globalisation: “Many law firms are struggling with the shift of economic weight eastwards”.
- There is an increased focus on procurement and performance management: “Increased levels of cost awareness among clients are encouraging a more rigorous approach to selecting law firms and managing their performance”.
- A move away from billable hours is encouraging a strong focus on project management: “Two thirds of respondents agree that there is pressure on law firms to move away from the billable hours model”.
- Legal expertise is important, but clients are looking for a broader range of attributes from their law firms: “…including transparency in pricing, international expertise and competitive fees”.
- Corporates are looking to develop a broader conversation with law firms: “Client CEOs are…incredibly influential in appointing law firms.”
- Clients and law firms differ in their opinion of what makes a successful client/adviser relationship: “Clients…cite…the ability to solve problems quickly as being most critical”.
- Knowledge provision is vital to an effective relationship, but law firms may be neglecting this: “Clients…are generally dissatisfied with the effectiveness of law firms at catering to their knowledge requirements”.
A surprising finding in the Report is that, when asked with which management executive at their law firms a client would most value having a relationship, “knowledge” was the fourth most popular answer – behind practice heads, the managing partner and the senior partner, but well ahead of marketing, sales and business development and HR.
Finally, an unsurprising finding in the Report is that clients attach little importance to law firm branding.