As mentioned on several blogs, and in an ABA Journal online article, a recent survey of CLO’s made clear that in-house counsel aren’t buying the concept of a “new legal model.” It isn’t that they don’t want one, it’s just that 75% gave their firms a 0 to 4 (out of ten), “indicating that firms have little or no interest in change;” that is, delivering greater value for the services provided. According to Dan DiLucchio in a press release issued by Altman Weil, which conducted the 2009 Chief Legal Officer Survey, “[T]his is a dramatic vote of no confidence from chief legal officers.”
What that means for the more flexible, responsive medium- to small-sized law firms, is that they could make serious inroads into the once exclusive large firm domain. How? Some of the ways might include:
- Increasing value in terms of pricing products and how the services are delivered;
- Offering alternative fees, including flat fees;
- Improving responsiveness and timeliness of services;
- Seeking more client input and feedback;
- Offering freebies, including CLE seminars, short phone calls, emails, etc.;
- Stopping the nickel and diming of clients relating to overhead costs;
- Avoiding surprises and providing regular updates at no charge; and
- Taking time to really understand the client’s business off the clock.
A simple way learn what clients want in terms of value is to ask them what they would like to see in that regard. Not only will these firms learn what will make their existing clients happy and raving fans, but what would likely sell to those CLO’s that don’t believe their current firms are serious about a new legal model.