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Good News! Industry Report Finds Why Clients are Happier with Particular Law Firms
Summary: BTI Consulting's new research shows law firms and corporate have considerably improved their relations over the last three years. Corporate counsel have become better in laying down their expectations to law firms, and law firms are responding better to fulfill those. Firms able to adopt better working arrangements are experiencing 6%-11% higher growth than other law firms. Corporate counsel are referring their primary law firms to others at a higher rate than seen in the last three years.
BTI Consulting's new research shows that in 2014, over 40% corporate counsel are recommending their primary law firms to peers, up from 31.4% in 2013. This is the highest level of satisfaction seen in corporate counsel over relationships with their primary law firms within the last three years.
BTI's research took a look at the core themes in improving relationships and the characteristics of those law firms that were able to satisfy their clients better than their competitors.
The first basis of the improvement, of course, is that better performing law firms interact with corporate counsel who take greater time to properly articulate their expectations from the law firm. And when law firms listen, they excel. The three core areas where better-performing law firms excel in responding to clients include:
Specificity: Law firms that focus more on the specific impact of their advice on the businesses of their clients, not in the sense of general legal advice, but in alignment with business loss and gain of the client - excel
Level of investment by law firms: Law firms that invest their own time and money in nursing a client relationship in a manner where it is visible to the client that the law firm is adding value to their business - excel. The relationship has moved away from the one-way 'client asks-we give' sort. Law firms excelling in client relationships are bringing in new insights to client businesses and helping them to avoid risks, improve efficiency, and in manners that traditional law firms do not service their clients
Visible engagement: Attitude wins. Law firms that excel are able to visibly highlight that they are concerned about the dynamics of their clients' businesses. They ask about business plans and how they can help, what new products are being launched and so on and so forth. The best firms actually engage continuously with client businesses to help them on multiple fronts.
In fact better-performing law firms are keenly aware of the specific business environments of their clients and are able to change before their clients do.
Michael B. Rynowecer, President of BTI, summed up the situation by saying, "The challenge for any firm is to stay one step ahead of clients' goals and outpace competitors looking to unseat you as a client's primary provider … The key is to keep talking to and interacting with your client, and change before your client does."