Survey: GCs want law firms that Understand their Business

Corporate_legal_times182 General counsel are no longer measured by their legal prowess, but by the business acumen, according to the Corporate Legal Times | LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell 16th annual survey of general counsel.  Accordingly, they look to retain law firms that "have a good understanding of their company's business; offer cost-saving alternative billing methods; work with them to manage their legal risks; and generally adhere to budgets.  The survey results are published on pages 36-46 of the July 2005 issue of CLT. (Sorry, nothing online to link to.)

Mhlogoblock Staying within budget is a big deal in the corporate world.  "The small number of firms that have insisted on bucking our system or disregarding our preferences have been deselected, or are being phased out," said one GC.

Even though the survey found that most GCs believe that the level of law firm service has improved over the past five years, there are still negatives:

  • 46% of GCs don't believe law firms understand corporate budget pressures and 1/3 say law firms pad their bills.
  • 42% of GCs say that law firms don't adhere to budgets.
  • One bank's internal attorneys now estimate how much a matter should cost before they issue an RFP. 
  • When an entire industry is being sued, GCs want law firms to form join-defense groups to pick one law firm to represent all the companies.
  • 99% of GCs say that law firms rarely or never ask for an evaluation.  55% of GCs said law firms should ask for feedback at the conclusion of a matter

On the other hand, law firms say:

  • 90% of law firms offer alternatives to traditional hourly rates, but clients don't ask form them.
  • Some law firms are requesting feedback from GCs, even going to far as to hire third-party consulting firms to conduct post-mortem surveys of key clients.
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