The Financial Times and Marketing Partner Forum recently published two reports (download here - free registration required) of law firms and clients that gives us a glimpse into what clients expect in a post-crisis world. Some highlights:
- Law firms struggle more than clients with globalization. Clients rank "International Focus" as second to "Understanding of Industry" in importance when selecting a firm. Only about 33% of law firms felt confident working with international, emerging markets.
- Clients are increasingly focused on a structured procurement process and on-going performance management. Clients are looking for new ways to measure and evaluate law firms and their individual lawyers.
- Both firms and clients agree that there is sigificant pressure to move away from the billable hour and move towards other pricing models. Project management skills and processes are being required by clients to improve efficiency among law firms. For basic work, the most important criteria is competitive pricing, but it is more of a perceived issue by law firms than by clients. Transparency of fee pricing was very important to clients.
- For a healthy client-firm relationship, clients want more communication between their outside lawyers and the C-suite, especially with the CEO, Chairman, and practice leaders. No surprise, clients want firms to (in rank order) respond quickly, understand their business, instill trust, communicate frequently, be transparent and open, develop links between 'C-Suites' of firm and client, become embedded and anticipate needs.
- Turn-offs include (rank order) slow response, lack of transparency, inappropriate advice, a sales-oriented approach, lack of attention, inconsistent service and others.
- It appears that while firms are investing heavily in social media and digital media, clients rate those marketing techniques as least effective. Reports on current legal trends are seen as most effective by clients.followed by seminars and events.
- Want to know how to measure client satisfaction? Client say an informal meeting is the most effective, followed by a structured meeting with lead partner and a client survey.
- Less than 10% of firms claim that they are highly effective in 'measuring performance and client satisfaction".
- Clients look for their attorneys to be highly knowledgable about their business and industry, but firms "may be neglecting this".
For lawyers and firms seeking to service corporate clients, it is worth scrolling through "A New Dawn: Lessons for Law Firm Management in the Post-crisis World" and "FT/MPF Roadshow: Putting clients at the heart of your management".