UK Looking Glass Report Identifies Law Firms’ Low-Hanging Fruit

Topics: Corporate Legal, Law Firms, Leadership, Legal Innovation, Thomson Reuters, White Papers

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In a legal market that’s demanding more and more of law firms, sometimes the most important question is, “Where to Start?”

In the UK, the recent Looking Glass Report 2015 provides at least a partial answer for UK law firms. The report, based on research covering 122 in-house counsel and 160 law firm partners, covers a lot of ground. It looks at firms’ and in-house law departments’ responses to the economic environment and evolving market conditions; technology and innovation; and the relationships between inside lawyers and the external firms they hire. Thomson Reuters, Mayer Brown, and Winmark collaborated on the research. (For a good taste of some of the insights in the report, see the analysis in Legal Week’s LegalVoice column from Thomson Reuters’ Lucinda Case, head of customer segments and strategy at Thomson Reuters UK & Ireland.)

On the “where to start” question, the report provides a useful analysis that should help firms focus on changes that will have the most positive impact.

The report takes three priority areas for law firms—Brand, Service and Expertise—and maps various aspects of those areas on a simple grid. The report rates those aspect on whether in-house lawyers deem them important, and whether in-house lawyers believe that firms are performing well in the delivery of those aspects.

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The grid answers the question of where law firm efforts will make the most difference: the aspects located in the lower-right quadrant. Areas like Diversity, Marketing & Business Development, Thought Leadership, International Reach, and the Pitching Process are all priorities for in-house lawyers. However, they are all areas in which in-house lawyers don’t perceive their law firm counterparts performing particularly well.

The same analysis in “Service” shows that aspects such as Offering a Retainer, Providing Training, Proactivity, Use of Technology, On-Time Delivery, and Collaboration with Other Firms are all areas that in-house lawyers value highly, but where they perceive that law firm performance could be better.

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The report is specific to the UK, but most of these conclusions would seem to apply in other markets as well. Just as important as the actual findings here is the approach the report takes. All firms would benefit from seeing themselves through their clients’ eyes: What do they value most? and Which of those things are we falling short on?