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Despite in-house teams championing change to the traditional law firm model, recent research suggests that their voice is not always heard and there continues to be a significant disconnect between what in-house teams want and what law firms deliver.
Our LexisNexis report Amplifying the Voice of the Client, produced in conjunction with Dr Kishore Sengupta at Cambridge’s Judge Business School makes it clear that in-house teams want changes across the board from law firms; including reassessing working practices, pricing, firm structures and client relationship management.
Where is the disconnect between law firm and client?
There are 3 persistent causes of disconnect that arose from the research:
“Clients are getting serious about the way they select law firms to work with. Firms are not realising the seriousness of panel reviews. These reviews are not something to be tolerated before reverting to old ways of working, but rather a wakeup call to the firm to either change or lose out on the work.” Stéphanie Hamon, Managing Director and Head of Commercial Management at Barclays Legal.
Can the gap be bridged?
The report does confirm, however, that evidence from other professional service sectors suggests the disconnect can be repaired though concrete actions. It broadly identifies five recommendations your law firm should consider:
“It would be wonderful to have our panel tell us about what’s going on in the sector. We don’t want competitor specific information, but surely there are trends and implications that they can share.”
What, if anything, can in-house counsel do to support change?
During the research, in-house counsel did acknowledge that more could be done to support their firms work in a different way.
This included being clearer with expectations; giving greater thought to how work is allocated and being more straightforward with the way you select law firms to work with.
Rob Booth, General Counsel and Company Secretary at The Crown Estate, sums it up well. He cited “transparency, clarity and consistency” as his suggestions for the three key elements to improving the relationship.
Click here to download the full report, with detailed analysis.
An evolving journey
There is certainly desire on both sides to find new ways of working that provide greater transparency and an adaptable, flexible approach.
Nonetheless, as highlighted there are steps – on both sides of the divide – that can be taken to help bridge the gap. And that is just a start.
Continue dialogue. Sharing learnings is another critical step to explore what works and the make it work even better.
To this end, we have been supporting in-house counsel forge partnerships that add value and enable you and your business to seize opportunities for over 10 years, sharing best practice from fellow in-house counsel and experts through interviews, discussion papers and selective networking events.
Listening and learning to you, the in-house community, we continually develop exclusive guidance and practical advice on working with law firms and sourcing legal services. From examining remuneration options and innovative ways of working with law firms to setting up a panel or even exploring potential sources of legal services beyond traditional law firms. Find out more about how our portfolio – tailored specifically for in-house counsel – can support you bridge the gap.
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Sophie is Head of Learning & Development at F-LEX Legal - an award winning legal tech startup helping law firms and organisations manage a flexible work force and supporting lawyers to make smarter life/work choices.
As part of her portfolio career Sophie runs various learning and development and networking forums for in-house lawyers and mentors junior lawyers. These include Flying Solo for small and solo legal teams and Aspire for junior in-house lawyers which she runs for LexisNexis UK. She also works with schools and organisations to promote social mobility within the legal profession, working with The Social Mobility Business Partnership and Aspiring Solicitors.
She trained as a lawyer in the City and worked as an in-house lawyer for 10 years including as Head of Legal for Virgin Radio and Ginger Media Group.
Outside of work she is happily married with three sons and enjoys morning walks along the beach with her two dogs.
0330 161 1234