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7
Client Choice – International 2013
to lead that discussion. From the outset, you
want them to explain that a particular issue
can get extremely expensive and will be time
intensive, and that they are therefore prepared
to explore different options and make some
alternative suggestions.”
There would appear to be a simple lesson
here for those who still find billing a sticking point
– it could be time to shop around. Rosolinsky
also offers another telling insight: “I suspect that
these improvements are being delivered by those
partners who really understand the importance
of long-term relationships. You can tell that some
partners have really gone to battle with the
management structures at their firms and
demanded approval for certain compromises
in order to demonstrate commitment to the
maintenance of a key relationship.”
While there is clearly some disparity between
the levels of flexibility that firms are prepared to
offer when it comes to billing, there can surely
be no doubt as to the message sent by those
unprepared to brook compromise. “I want to
work with counsel who understand teamwork,”
confirms Rosolinsky. “This can be demonstrated
in many ways, but the most obvious way to
prove commitment is by demonstrating an
understanding that we are currently feeling some
pain. By showing that we are all in it together,
that they are prepared to feel some of that same
pain too, firms can show a long-term view.
After all, we are all hoping that there will be
better and more fruitful times ahead.”
There’s an app for that
Innovative companies demand innovative law
firms, so perhaps the real sweet spot for client
service lies ahead of the curve. Unsurprisingly,
given her position at Google, for Capparelli it is
ingenuity from law firms that really gets her
excited. “For us, innovation and creativity in
problem solving is what we are really looking for.
We look for solutions and need firms that do the
same. We need advice that allows us to move
forward and do the things that we want to do.
To achieve that requires creativity.”
Meanwhile, Eichhorn cites improvements
in firms’ use of technology as among the most
significant advances he has observed during his
time with GE. “It is certainly becoming a more
important factor in the client service equation.
There is an iPhone app that calls your dawn
raid contact at the push of a button. There are
also apps that provide basic day-to-day advice.
I believe that firms are showing tremendous
willingness to develop their IT capabilities. There
are also reciprocal advantages in them sharing
their internal systems with clients – that is a
service which doesn’t cost them anything. They
have enormous resources that corporate legal
teams don’t have, particularly on the knowledge
management side. That is an area that corporate
legal teams, which are hugely constrained, can
benefit from hugely.”
But innovation is not only about keeping pace
with the latest shiny gadgets. After all, it was not
so long ago that email represented the last word
in high technology. That might seem like the dark
ages to today’s computer-savvy generation, but
some firms are still struggling to get to grips with
how to deliver just the right level of information
into clients’ bulging inboxes.
“I get a lot of emails,” sighs our anonymous
interviewee. “A lot of client alerts that firms
think would be relevant to me. The ones that
really matter – and that I genuinely appreciate
– usually begin with something like, ‘In light of
your policy on...’ or, ‘We have seen your
handbook and we would suggest an adjustment
to Article 9 because ...’ Basically, it has to be
tailored. This is also when the law firm gets the
most value out of the effort that they are
expending.”
“I want my outside counsel to demonstrate
that the relationship is about something more
substantial than simply the payment of the next
invoice,” he continues. “One of the ways that
firms can demonstrate this is by getting to know
who we are, how we work and what our strategic
goals are. This allows them to anticipate the
specific realities of our business terrain. When a
lawyer can send me an unprompted update
suggesting certain actions because they know
that these are consistent with the strategic goals
of our company, he has demonstrated a level of
understanding, knowledge and partnership that
is pretty extraordinary. That is the key to service.
That is the kind of innovation that really counts.”
Tom Gillett
Head of Research
Client Choice