Risk Update

Risk “Issue” Week (Part 4) — Outside Counsel Guidelines: Strategies for Firm Firm Response

As Clients Demand More Than Ever, How Can Lawyers and Firms Respond?” —

  • “As the legal industry continues to disaggregate and is increasingly flooded with technology, clients and in-house counsel report that they want a more personalized legal relationship. As hyperpersonalization permeates the legal industry, clients will continue to push for more tailored service.”
  • “These circumstances suggest that a key step in bridging the gap between client expectations and law firm efforts is for both sides to open a dialogue about needs and obstacles and how to develop collaborative ways to address them. Below, we discuss a few specific areas to consider as a starting place for those initial conversations, and for making the investment in better understanding clients’ specific business and legal needs.”
  • “The Value of Data. Leveraging data and analytics is one way in which firms can accede to client requests for more predictable pricing, staffing and results. Metrics about prior matters and their variables can also provide clients with more information about anticipated turnaround time, settlement value, jury verdicts and other considerations, which, in turn, clients can use at the outset of an engagement to make decisions that align with their broader business goals and directives. Essentially, data allows for a more informed decision-making process… Outside counsel are well-positioned to help clients navigate their in-house use of legal technology. In turn, this effort may result in clients being able to provide more and better data to firms, which firms can then use to augment their services—including data and analytics on particular matters and broader trends.”
  • “A New Staffing Model. One way for firms to address these issues is to establish dedicated teams for particular clients and encourage those attorneys and staff to invest in a deeper understanding of the clients’ business and requirements… Instead of having a partner or associate manage all tasks, the team, with collaborative input from the client, may be better positioned to assess which tasks can be managed by paralegals, passed off to a consulting arm, or even outsourced to alternative (and more cost-effective) service providers… A benefit of any secondment program is that it gives the firm insight into the client’s day-to-day business needs and culture; seconded lawyers gain experience that serves them, the firm and the client long after the secondment period ends.”
  • “Incentives to Add Value. Rather than relying solely on client pressure to create attorney buy-in, firms should also consider internal policies and incentives to help their lawyers meet client demands for greater understanding of their business and proactive advice… It is all too easy for both clients and outside counsel to sit back and expect the other party to present ideas for innovation and improved services. For law firms, waiting to change until a client asks for something new runs the risk of not seeing a problem until it is too late: the client never asks and instead moves the work elsewhere.”