The reputation of the individual is the single most important factor when deciding which law firm to use, according to the latest benchmarking research. Three in four general counsel (74 per cent) say this was the top factor when selecting a law firm compared to 39 per cent who opted for price. It is the first time in the GC Excellence Benchmark report research, which has been conducted over five years, that reputation has topped the bill. The research, conducted in association with TerraLex, revealed that both the individual and team reputation scored high above that of the firm's brand as the most important factor - only seven per cent chose the law firm brand as important whilst 61 per cent valued the reputation of the law firm. Clients were less impressed with a global presence with only 18 per cent valuing this, down from 22 per cent two years ago whilst personal relationships with the external team was valued by 40 per cent.
The growing focus on reputation as a 'must-have' is one of the stand-out findings of this year's research which also found that many firms are still not carrying out basic business steps such as effectively managing and communicating with clients or ensuring that they provide support to the legal department. It highlighted the arrival of chief operators in legal departments, finding that 44 per cent of respondents had taken the step of appointing a chief of staff/head of operations. Furthermore, one in five want to see law firms making greater use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to increase efficiency whilst one in three say law firms should be using technology to control costs and deliver more valuable management information for clients.
The cult of the individual has been growing in recent years, according to PR strategist Geraldine McGrory of McGrory Communications. She pointed out that personal profile was now a key differentiator for private practice lawyers and taking steps to ensure they were seen to be top of their league was key. It presented a challenge for law firms, however, as developing a firmwide brand and managing individual profiles had to be carefully handled. She said this meant law firms had to reassess how they dealt with both to maximise the R-Factor. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of the GC Excellence Report, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.