Research conducted in partnership with Judge Business School finds signs of disruption in the business of established law firms
LONDON, 11 April 2017 – LexisNexis UK (www.lexisnexis.co.uk), a leading provider of content and technology solutions, today announced that its latest report Amplifying the voice of the client finds evidence of a significant disconnect between law firms and their clients. While both lawyers and clients seem to be aware of the disconnect, their interpretations of the magnitude and underlying causes are different.
The research, which was conducted in partnership with Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, suggests that this disconnect means many clients are making moves away from larger law firms. 25% of clients mentioned a move to bring more of the business in-house. Several clients are willing to seek non-traditional solutions. Some clients have started working with smaller firms who, they say, offer the flexibility, visibility and responsiveness they do not get from the top-50 law firms.
Clients repeatedly emphasised that they look to law firms for solutions to business problems, yet 40% noted that senior partners of their law firms appeared to lack more than a basic knowledge of their business. It seems though that lawyers view their role differently, as one partner suggested law firms provide advice; it is for the clients to decide how to convert this advice to solutions.
Seventy-five percent of the clients interviewed mentioned they get little help from law firms when analysing the complex portfolio of legal work given to them: spends, trends, type of work, the life cycle of cases, impact, timelines etc. From the lawyers perspective, many work types remain uncertain and they do not believe it is possible to always provide clients with the visibility they desire.
All clients were uniformly of the opinion that not only do law firms not provide relationship services, in many cases they do not seem to see the need. Several clients characterized their partnerships as “superficial” and more than one expressed the view that the voice of the client is “deliberately” not communicated to the wider firm because this is “expensive and time consuming” for the law firm.
It’s not all bad news though. There is evidence from other professional service sectors that suggests the disconnect can be repaired through concrete actions. The recommendations are detailed in the report and fall within two categories: re-engineering of processes/practices and rethinking core strategies on clients. Some law firms have already made progress and their actions have been well received by clients.
Mark Smith, Market Development Director at LexisNexis said: “The pace of evolution in the legal profession is unprecedented and although many of these changes are client driven, it seems based on this research that the client voice is still not being heard loudly enough within the firm. It suggests that law firms need to improve their ability to work in a joined up manner, focus on identifying opportunities that create mutual value, and start working harder at putting client relationships at the heart of everything they do.”
The research consisted of semi-structured interviews with partners and/or heads of support services from law firms and general counsel and heads of lines of business from their clients.
Kishore Sengupta, Reader in Operations, Cambridge Judge Business School, commented: "The findings of this report highlight the need to rethink core client strategies. To succeed in the current climate, lawyers need to be more than just great lawyers – they need to understand their clients’ businesses more deeply. Lawyers now need to implement clear strategies to manage client relationships, moving beyond pragmatic engagements to providing a sense of partnership where the client feels valued and protected. Done well, such an approach will support firms in winning over their clients.”
The research can be viewed at: lexisnexis.co.uk/clientvoice
About LexisNexis® Legal & Professional
LexisNexis Legal & Professional is a leading global provider of content and technology solutions that enable professionals in legal, corporate, tax, government, academic and non-profit organizations to make informed decisions and achieve better business outcomes. As a digital pioneer, the company was the first to bring legal and business information online with its Lexis® and Nexis® services. Today, LexisNexis Legal & Professional harnesses leading-edge technology and world-class content to help professionals work in faster, easier and more effective ways. Through close collaboration with its customers, the company ensures organizations can leverage its solutions to reduce risk, improve productivity, increase profitability and grow their business. LexisNexis Legal & Professional, which serves customers in more than 175 countries with 10,000 employees worldwide, is part of RELX Group, a global provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries.
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