70 Percent of Big Companies Dissatisfied With Primary Law Firm

Thumbsdown According to a new survey, 70 percent of corporate counsel surveyed--most from Fortune 1000 companies--were dissatisfied with their primary law firms. A little more than half of the corporate counsel reported they had replaced or demoted at least one of their primary law firms in the 18 months prior to the survey--largely without any more notice than a reduction in assignments.

The survey found a 30.7 percent satisfaction rate, representing a drop from the prior year's rate of 43.5 percent, a five-year high. If law firms would just listen to their clients (see "Listening Your Way to New Business") or pay a visit to their offices they would know what was on their client's minds.  The survey report, How Clients Hire, Fire and Spend: Landing the World's Best Clients, attributed the decline to three key factors. The law firms:

  • Fail to keep up with clients' changing needs.
  • Do not articulate the value they deliver.
  • Do not communicate well with clients.

As for articulating value, there's only one thing clients card about: "did you help my company make more money?"  Or did you save them money?  Or did you protect their assets?  You have to think in terms of business results and actually tell the client what you did for them.  They will not infer this from your great legal pleadings.

The results show customer service in a corporate-client relationship is paramount, and it is "not just about returning phone calls," says BTI president Michael B. Rynowecer. "The major components of client satisfaction are the ability to make legal expertise client-specific, to understand the client's business, to go beyond what's anticipated and to achieve the client's goals."

The survey was conducted by BTI Consulting Group, a Wellesley, Mass.-based market research and management consulting firm. The results were drawn from more than 200 interviews between July and October 2005 with corporate counsel at large and Fortune 1000 companies across more than 15 sectors, including banking, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and high-tech.

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