Corporate counsel are choosing external law firms on their levels of responsiveness and are also prioritising legal technology. The survey of more than 200 in-house lawyers, found that when deciding whether to instruct a law firm, they valued responsiveness (rated 8.8 out of 10 in terms of importance), understanding of the business and its 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.
Innovative over personal
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 supplier 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.
Growing pressure on law firms
Thomson Reuters, which carried out the research, says that the results demonstrate the growing pressure on law firms from clients to be responsive to the client’s agreed needs in relation to a specific matter, to have deep knowledge of the law and, more commercial awareness. '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 of Thomson Reuters. 'For in-house counsel, these are often the factors that really justify the fees.'