26 May 2016

Diversity pays off for legal teams

According to a survey released by consulting firm Acritas, 'very diverse' legal teams perform better and get 25 per cent more of clients' total legal spend than teams that are 'not at all diverse.'

By Victoria Basham

The report is based on 1,771 interviews with senior-in-house counsel around the world, with respondents defining diversity primarily in terms of gender, but also according to race and ethnicity, nationality, LGBT identification, age and years of experience.

Better performance across the board

The report found that only 25 per cent of legal teams used by clients are ‘very diverse’, but provide a superior performance to their clients across all key performance areas compared to teams that are ‘not at all diverse’. Significant differences are reported in relation to the value delivered, with overall satisfaction scores are also significantly improved when clients are working with very diverse teams.

‘When clients feel they are working with very diverse teams, they are significantly more likely to promote the law firm they are working with to others – which all firms are working towards as it is the ultimate signal of a strong client relationship,’ Acritas CEO Hart Shepherd says. ‘And the proof of the pudding is in share of wallet, with very diverse teams getting a 25 per cent higher share of wallet than not at all diverse teams.’

Higher salaries and higher spend

The same report found that male general counsel are consistently paid more than female counsel and that male GCs are more likely to be growing legal spend, whereas women are planning to keep their legal budgets the same as their current total.

‘Major differences’ in buying behaviour

Male and female general counsel also show ‘major differences’ in legal buying behaviour and attitudes. While quality and specialised knowledge tops the list for both genders, senior male in-house counsel base their preferences for legal support more on results, reputation and relationships. Senior female in-house counsel are more attracted to firms who display responsiveness, business understanding, client focus, commerciality and efficiency.

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