LONDON – In-house counsel who choose external law firms say that a firm’s responsiveness is the most important factor in their decision, according to a new survey by Thomson Reuters UK & Ireland.
The survey, entitled “Standing out from the crowd: What do businesses value most from their law firms?”, was conducted with more than 200 in-house lawyers. The survey found that when deciding whether to hire a law firm, respondents valued responsiveness (rated 8.8 out of 10 in terms of importance), understanding of the client’s business and industry (8.6) and deep specialist expertise (7.6) as the most important factors.
These factors all rank higher than price (7.5), and highlight where law firms may choose to focus their investment in order to have the biggest impact on client experience.“There is now tremendous pressure on law firms to understand, agree and keep to, service level agreements with their clients, and to ensure their responses reflect the commercial and wider-industry in which the client operates,” said Samantha Steer, Director of Large and Medium Law Firms at the Legal UK & Ireland business for Thomson Reuters. “For in-house counsel, these are often the factors that really justify the fees.”
Technology Advances in Survey
The survey results also show that legal technology is now moving up the agenda for in-house counsel. Innovative service delivery through technology (rated 5.9 out of 10 in terms of importance) was ranked as a more important factor in choosing a law firm than personal relationships between the firm and senior decision-makers (4.8), corporate social responsibility (5) and size and reach of international network (5.6).
Document automation was highlighted by a number of respondents as being a key area where law firms can add value for their clients. For clients that produce a large number of documents with only small variations — such as employment contracts or non-disclosure agreements — providing technology to automate their production can save in-house lawyers a significant amount of time. “The ability to show innovation when it comes to delivering legal services is something that is becoming a more important part of a comprehensive commercial law offering,” said Thomson Reuters’ Steer.
Of the more than 200 lawyers surveyed, the majority are General Counsel or Heads of Legal, and focus on clients that work with UK firms ranked 50-200 in The Lawyer Top 200.
You can download a copy of the survey, “Standing out from the crowd: What do businesses value most from their law firms?” here.