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News: New Interesting Survey About What Corporate Clients Expect from Their Outside Counsels

A new survey by ALM Legal Intelligence (ALI), seeking to identify disconnects in the collaboration process between law firms and their corporate clients, has just been published in in a whitepaper titled “Meeting Client Expectations? The Hidden Secret for Improved Satisfaction.”

Below, we have compiled some of the most significant results.

The study surveyed lawyers in corporate legal departments (50% working at companies with revenues over $1 billion) and lawyers in law firms (80% working at mid to large size firms). The goal was:

  • to understand how clients perceive the effectiveness of law firms in delivering legal work product, and
  • to get a sense of how the clients want to get the job done.

THE CORE FINDING WAS THAT CLIENTS FIRE LAW FIRMS FOR SUB-PAR DOCUMENT QUALITY AND DELIVERY.

The survey revealed that 51 percent of corporate legal departments have terminated a law firm due to sub-par document quality or delivery.

The report identifies these five document exchange and review essentials for firms to keep in mind:

1. Deliver high-quality documents in a timelier manner

Almost half of corporate legal departments surveyed said that law firms could drive value with more timely delivery of documents. Slow document turnaround or missed deadlines can greatly affect a firm’s relationship with its clients or even damage its reputation.

2. Improve the process of reusing prior work product and incorporate a multitude of sources

Nearly 70 percent of law firm respondents reported reusing prior work product at least half of the time. The practice is necessary, but not without risk.

3. Meet expectations for document validation

Corporate Counsel have high expectations when it comes to validating documents.

Almost 80 percent expect that accuracy and quality reviews are conducted by the lead lawyer on the matter; but they also cite the use of technology as favorable “safety nets” for routine checking and review. Unfortunately, law firms are missing an opportunity for costs savings here, as only 15 percent reported using technology for document reviews.

Instead of using technological resources to validate documents, many firms have their lawyers manually check for editing mistakes and other errors. Nine out of 10 legal departments said that they expect firms will have paralegals and other support staff review legal documents for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, yet only 46 percent of firms said they do so.

4. Include clients in the drafting process

A little over half (55%) of corporate legal departments view document exchange and review as a fully collaborative, back-and-forth process with their subject matter expertise included. Law firms that don’t include their clients in the drafting process are causing frustration and dissatisfaction.

5. Minimize the overabundance of email and redline reports

Both law firms and corporate legal departments agree that when it comes to communicating document changes, there is too much e-mailing. Many lawyers in legal departments state that the use of redlines and PDFs to communicate changes is inefficient and unwieldy and leads to omissions and errors. The disconnect between law firms and their clients is a result of ill- defined processes for document exchange and review and the inconsistent application of the appropriate software.

To read the whole survey results, click here.