Archive for the ‘Inside-Outside relationship’ Category

What do clients think about law firm marketing?

February 17th, 2012 by Altman Weil

Law firms that want to get on a potential client’s radar screen for the first time should focus on personal contact and substantive content according to the Altman Weil Chief Legal Officer Survey conducted last fall.  We asked CLOs to rate the effectiveness of ten typical marketing activities including sponsorships, directory listings, social media and more.  Take a look at how they scored.

Read it at Altman Weil

What do clients want?

December 15th, 2011 by Altman Weil

In pursuit of the eternal question, “What do clients want?” the Southwest Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association sponsored a panel discussion with three corporate counsel in September.   Here are some excerpts from the GCs’ comments:

“The number one thing I value in a relationship with the firms I use is a can-do attitude.”

“In the last 18 months I have fired firms, multiple firms, because we have finally realized that they just won’t take direction.”

“Just keep in mind we do have bosses.  We have people we’re accountable to and if you create an expectation [about winning a case], and I pass that expectation on and it goes the polar opposite of that, it’s not a real good situation.”

“Do your homework about who we are, what we are, show some insight into it.”

“Don’t be great at everything… Don’t oversell it.  Come to me and tell me something that you take pride in, that’s important to you and that you’re good at.  That resonates with me.”

“I appreciate paying for good lawyering.  I expect to pay for something that has value.”

Read it at Arizona Attorney

Cost cutting slows in corporate law departments

November 30th, 2011 by Altman Weil

Corporate law departments may be easing up on cost cutting according to Altman Weil’s 2011 Chief Legal Officer Survey.  More law departments have boosted their overall budgets in 2011, and more are increasing their expenditures on outside counsel.

Fifty-six percent of Chief Legal Officers (CLOs) surveyed in October 2011 indicated that they had increased their law department budgets from 2010 to 2011, compared to 51% who did so the prior year.  The median amount of the increase also rose, going from 6% in 2010 to 7% in 2011.  Forty-six percent of law departments increased their outside expenditures, compared to 43% last year. 

“These are not big changes,” says Altman Weil principal Daniel J. DiLucchio.  “It is the shift of direction that’s interesting as it may signal some softening of the hard line on spending that corporate law departments embraced in the last few years.”

Read it at Altman Weil

The power of the GC - continued

September 21st, 2011 by Altman Weil

Will much-talked about change in the law firm–client business model come from law firms or from their clients?  A new article in Corporate Counsel comes down squarely on the side of the client, and specifically the General Counsel.

“Unfortunately for law firms, the future of the legal industry will actually be presided over by the general counsel of the largest 5 percent of corporations, who among them control more than half of the $100 billion U.S. corporate legal services market. In fact, even within this small population, 80 percent of the market is controlled by a mere 200 GCs. These are the men and women who control the fate of the entire legal industry.”

How will it happen?

The author foresees a select group of activist General Counsel who will lead the charge, first by getting their in-house departments in order; “segmenting” or disaggregating legal work (i.e. categorizing work for “law firms, in-house teams, lawyers in India, contract administrators, software programs, etc.”); and then applying this new discipline to its outside providers.


“There’s certainly no stampede under way, which, given all the talk, is curious. But a herd is forming, and I believe that within 12 months we’ll see segmentation or other change-management exercises under way in earnest across the majority of the Fortune 100. Thoughtfully and proactively remaking an industry allergic to change will require serious leadership. That leadership will come, not from law firms, but from their biggest clients. And it’s just begun.”

Read it at Corporate Counsel

Read our post on a recent Oxford University study with a slightly different take on the same topic

The power of the General Counsel

September 7th, 2011 by Altman Weil

Oxford University economist, Mari Sako, has published a new study, General Counsel with Power?,based on interviews with 52 General Counsel in the US and UK, including CISCO Systems, Goldman Sachs, Medtronic, and Yahoo.  Her focus is the power relationship between inhouse and and outside counsel, and the market forces that are disrupting the traditional balance between the two.

Corporate Counsel magazine summarizes the study:

In the end, Sako says, GCs have the upper hand in today’s economy, but that won’t always be the case. “Much of the bargaining power resulting from the economic climate is likely to erode when the economy picks up,” Sako writes. GCs can capitalize on their power “if they proactively invest in new capabilities such as project management,” she says. Yet in an alternate scenario, it might very well be that “we are heading for a supply side revolution with new entrants—legal service providers—driving discrete and disruptive changes in the way legal services are delivered.”

And Richard Suskind has written an interesting Afterword.

“From the transcripts of Professor’s Sako’s interviews, it is clear that some GCs think they themselves should drive innovation; but a larger proportion think that law firms should be leading the way.  Many law firms seem hesitant about this.  Yet, in the history of industry and commerce, customers or clients have rarely redefined the services they receive or the markets of which they are part.  That is the job of the provider.”

Read the summary at Coproporate Counsel

Download the study and afterword.

More on online auctions

August 19th, 2011 by Altman Weil

Following on the WSJ article on online auctions we noted earlier this month, WiredGC has published some interesting comments from Jeff Carr, GC at FMC Technologies.  FMC has been running internet-based auctions for legal work since 1998, and according to Carr “…they can work great in certain instances but they can be relationship destructive if used for every matter.”

He outlines FMC’s experience to date and under what circumstances he considers reverse aucitons to be appropriate:

“Here’s when we would consider use of a pure reverse auction:

1. When we have a new type of matter and we either have no incumbent firm or are dissatisfied with the firms we do have.

2. When there is a large volume of repetitive, low risk matters (e.g., slice and dice litigation, commercial leases, immigration, workers comp, EEOC, etc).

3. When we need to validate pricing/value from an incumbent service provider.

4. When we are pushing for adoption of new terms or conditions of service and the firms are resistant.”

Read it at WiredGC

Online bidding for legal work

August 2nd, 2011 by Altman Weil

Hat tip to the ABA Journal Online for pointing out today’s Wall Street Journal story on online auctions for legal work. 

This is how it works…

“Reverse auctions pit multiple law firms against each other in an online chat room where they anonymously submit quotes for a particular job. Firms then race against the clock to tender incremental discounts against competing bids. If someone introduces a new low price in the last minute or two of the session, it can be extended for several minutes—launching another round of calculations and lower offers.”

Typically the system has been used for high-volume, routine legal work like tax filings or IP transactions, but now its application may be expanding to more complex matters.

Read it Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Successful meetings with potential clients

July 7th, 2011 by Altman Weil

It’s not rocket science – but why do so many lawyers get it wrong?   Nino Cusimano, General Counsel at Telecom Italia, offers a list of practical and effective tips for your next rainmaking appointment.

  • How to make the first contact
  • What homework to do
  • Who to bring with you
  • Talking about conflicts
  • Talking about fees

And (as they say) much, much more…

Read it at Corporate Counsel

A survey about client surveys

June 29th, 2011 by Altman Weil

LexisNexis has released Global Client Feedback Initiatives, a survey of 415 senior personnel at law firms around the world.  The survey found:

  • 48% of all respondents formally solicit client feedback
  • 64% of Canadian law firms have feedback programs - the highest percentage reported
  • 64% report the cost of client feedback efforts is less than 5% of their total marketing budget
  • 83% “agree” or “strongly agree” that clients value their efforts
  • 48% use written or electronic surveys; 47% interview clients face to face

Read it at AmLaw Daily

Download a copy of the survey 

Law departments are using technology to control costs

June 24th, 2011 by Altman Weil

Corporate Counsel magazine has released its 2011 Survey of In-House Technology.  They found that the recession has caused corporate law departments to become more pro-active in communicating their technology needs to outside counsel especially as a means of cost control.

Survey findings on e-discovery…

“On the e-discovery front, roles have reversed between in-house and outside counsel. Where companies used to let their firms pick service providers and simply pay the bill, many now pick the providers themselves — typically, e-discovery vendors with whom they already have a relationship and in many cases, a discounted pricing arrangement.”

and on e-billing…

“On [managing costs], e-billing has also proven a winner. Or, at least, it has with the minority of companies — just 35 percent — that require it of outside counsel. “This has saved us a lot of money, has let us hold our legal fees to 2008 levels,” says one in-house counsel at a Fortune 500 company who asked not to be identified. “Before, we’d get 100 bills every month, with different people reviewing them, and rate increases would sneak in. When we started e-billing, there were a few times where someone upped their rate. Only we saw it, because the system flagged it. We don’t see anyone trying that anymore.”

Read it at