BLOGS: Custom Client Service Solutions

Wednesday, November 4, 2009, 4:38 PM

I don't get the Value Index "fuss"

So, as part of its Value Challenge the Association of Corporate counsel launches a Value Index wherein inside counsel give a one-star to five-star evaluation of outside counsel on six criteria:

-Understands Objectives/Expectations
-Legal Expertise
-Efficiency/Process Management
-Responsiveness/Communication
-Predictable Cost/Budgeting Skills
-Results Delivered/Execution

The individual evaluations will be available to ACC members, but not to law firms. Rather, the ACC will share aggregated information with law firms once a critical mass of evaluations are in place to make them statistically meaningful. It is this "secrecy" element that seems to be raising all the hackles among outside law firms and many of their consultants.

Thus, a vigorous (and unproductive) debate has emerged about the validity of the Value Index, its methodology, its fairness, etc. sounds like a lot of whining to me. Everyone in every law firm everywhere should have known for a long time now that inside counsel vigorously and sometimes brutally share information about outside counsel in list-servs and other media. I am glad that the ACC has decided to channel their commentary in six consistent evaluation categories. Knowing exactly how they will be judged, law firms should, it seems to me, quit complaining and get to work on activities that will measurable improve performance in all of them. Look at the categories, folks. As service organizations, law firms should have doing this stuff with or without the Value Index. Let's move on.


- Steve

Tuesday, November 3, 2009, 11:12 AM

Helping Law Firms Be More Efficient

A recent article in law360.com points to Womble Carlyle's innovation of creating the profession's first sales department eight years ago. The article mentions the fact that buyers of legal services must know and have relationships the lawyers who will serve them. I totally agree. In every sale on which I've assisted, our lawyer always has played the leading role in the sale. But, in my experience, nonlawyer sales forces greatly enhance the efficiency of law firms by handling many of the tasks of sales that do not necessarily require the personal attention of the lawyer -- targeting, initiating contact with inside counsel to arrange meetings, preparing focused research, co-conducting interviews, guiding follow-up of meetings, and helping lawyers maintain and advance relationships after initial meetings. Often, clients and potential clients develop relationships with nonlawyer salespeople (who add value by bringing an additional set of business skills) AND the lawyers who ultimately will handle the legal work. It is not mutually exclusive, and in fact it most often is mutually productive for both types of relationships to co-exist. This sharing of tasks during often-lengthy and complex sales cycles allows lawyers to concentrate most of their time on the most important sales tool of all -- great lawyering and great client service!

- Steve
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