The truth is law is just not a client service driven business. And it looks like the pandemic has done little to change that.
Wolters Kluwer’s 3rd annual Future Ready Lawyer Survey came out this week. The Survey seeks to demonstrate how (or maybe how little) the legal profession is evolving. How ready (or how little) the profession is prepared for the future.
 
Lots of data and statistics that  pundits like Bob Ambrogi and Richard Tromans have studied and analyzed and provided their views of what the data all means.  What it shows, particularly in the legal tech and innovation space. Lots of good points here as always.
But one set of non-tech statistics from the Survey caught my eye.(Just like it did with last year’s Study btw). And it has to do with client satisfaction. Here’s what Wolters learned about the attributes clients most value in their outside lawyers—-and how well those lawyers meet their clients’ expectations:
 
  • Trust in firms to meet needs: 80% of clients says it’s important, but only 30% say their lawyers do this very well.
  • Specialization: 79% say important, only 31% say their outside lawyers do this very well
  • Use of technology: 78% say essential, only 30% say their outside lawyers do this very well.
  • Demonstrates efficiency and proficiency: 78% say important, 29% (29%!) say their lawyers do this very well. (The leading reason to fire a law firm is the failure to meet this expectation, says the Survey).
  • Equip staff with right tools to do clients’ work: 78% say important, 28% say their current firms do it well.
 
Is there any other service industry with such an amazing mismatch between client wants and expectations and provider performance? Is there any other service industry that would put up with this?
 
What the heck is going on?
 
A couple of more statistics. 30% of legal departments say they are very satisfied with their law firms. 24% say they will likely (and I emphasize likely) fire their law firm in the coming year.
 
As to the former stat, given the failure of law firms to meet client expectations, you have to wonder if lots of clients don’t feel their firms’ meet their expectations but remain “satisfied” with them anyway. Or at least not dissatisfied with them to fire them. That bad service is such a norm that it’s ok (Sort of like the taxicab industry pre-Uber).
You have to wonder if lots of clients don’t feel their firms’ meet their expectations but remain satisfied with them anyway. That bad service is such a norm that it’s ok
 
As to the latter stat, what’s odd to me is that the statistics reflecting a mismatch in expectation and performance are pretty consistent with last year’s. (Here’s my post on last year’s Survey). So clients seem to accept the poor service.
And yes, some firms are thinking this year about making a change. We don’t know how many clients thought about making a change last year. But the fact that the mismatch remains roughly the same would suggest that the changes, if made, didn’t yield any better client satisfaction. Again suggesting bad service is such a norm that its not only tolerated, but that there is no viable alternative in clients’ eyes.
If firms and clients aren’t pursuing and demanding better service, there’s little need to embrace tech, innovation, or for that matter, any change
 
And the failure to meet client expectations and it’s acceptance is, in fact, the real reason we don’t see more change in the legal profession. The only reason to embrace technology and adopt any innovation is to improve service and performance. So if firms and clients aren’t pursuing and demanding better service, there’s little need to embrace tech, innovation, or for that matter, any change. The status quo is good enough.
 
The truth is law is just not a client service driven business. Not now. Not ever. And the pandemic has done little to change that.

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

The Who, Won’t Get Fooled Again. June 1971

Lots of speculation these days about what the new normal for law firms, especially larger ones, will look like. Will law firms continue to allow remote work? Or will they mandate a return to the office? Will they, as one firm has done ” strongly encourage” return (wink, wink, nod, nod)? Will they tell associates they can work at home…but if you want to be on the partner track….

Continue Reading Law Firms and the New Normal: Meet the New Boss?

Uber Preferred Counsel Program uses data, metrics and tough questions to determine outside counsels’ commitment to diversity.

 

Let’s be blunt: The legal profession in general and law firms, in particular, have an abysmal record of diversity and inclusion. I have written about this several times, but despite the urgings of those more influential and well-spoken than me, improvements, well, just haven’t happened. The most recent ABA Study of diversity progress (or better put, lack thereof) glaringly demonstrates the failures.

 

The improvement in quality of work and decision making of diverse teams—teams composed of those other than old (and young) white men—have been well documented. Despite this, and even though both law firms and clients talk a good diversity and inclusion game, nothing ever seems to change. Why?

Continue Reading Want Diversity in Law Firms? Clients Have to Demand It

Automated contract analysis and analytical tools are getting increasingly sophisticated, making transactional work more efficient and less lawyers centric.

Thomson Reuters today announced the launch of HighQ Contract Analysis. The product is a contract review and analysis tool that uses machine learning to answer specific questions from legal professionals and then spit out an easy-to-read report. The tool lets you ask such things as “What are the landlord’s maintenance obligations ?” or “Is there a mutual right to break?”

 

Continue Reading Thomson Reuters Announces a New Automated Contract Analysis Tool

Esquire eLitigate™ Helps Attorneys and Court Reporters Standardize and Optimize Virtual Deposition Processes.

 

Esquire Deposition Solutions, a national provider of remote and in-person court reporting and video, yesterday announced it is partnering with a remote deposition and exhibit management provider vTestify to provide a product called Esquire eLitigate™™. eLitigate™ is a technology platform that’s designed specifically for virtual depositions. Currently, in a pilot phase, Esquire eLitigate™ will be released commercially in August 2021.

Continue Reading Esquire and vTestify Announce All-in-One, Virtual Deposition and Exhibit Management Platform

When looked at as a whole, the 2020 financial performance of the AmLaw 200 looks great. But there are troubling issues for the AmLaw “2nd 100”.
ALM recently released its financial summary for the AmLaw 200 for 2020. (The AmLaw 200 consists of the top 200 firms in gross dollar revenue). On the surface, the picture looks rosy for 2021. But a closer look reveals some clouds on the horizon for the second 100 law firms, which rank from 101-200 in gross revenues.
 

Continue Reading The AmLaw 2020 Report: Storm Clouds For Midsize Law Firms?

The standard advice used to be for lawyers to model their client service after Starbucks. Make the experience and service fantastic. But if the current state of Starbucks service (and that offered by many other businesses) post-Covid is any indication, that’s the worst model for lawyers. A better model: double down on customer service and experience.

I recently had the following exchange with Starbucks support:

Continue Reading Lawyers: (Don’t) Be Like Starbucks

Most recognize that cloud computing will be the new norm for lawyers, if it’s not already. But not just because of the usual cited reasons of accessibility, efficiency or security.
 
I chat periodically with David Carns, Chief Revenue Officer of Casepoint, to find out what his company is up to. But also to get his take on what’s going on in the legal tech world.
 Casepoint is an e-discovery cloud-based provider. It offers data-based intelligence and full-spectrum eDiscovery, including cloud collections, and review and customizable productions. It also data processing, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence service. I have written several posts about the company and our chats.

Continue Reading On-Prem v. The Cloud. It’s Game Over

Want to have an in-person event again? It’s all about organization and risk management. Just ask the West Virginia State Bar Association.

 

It’s spring. A time for rebirth. And slowly, ever so slowly, people are getting back together, coming out of their caves bleary-eyed. And while some organizations are beginning to THINK about returning to in-person live meetings and conferences, one organization has already done it.

 

On April 10-12 at the Greenbrier resort in Lewisburg, West Virginia, the West Virginia State Bar Association became the first state bar to return to in-person meetings. (For that matter, I haven’t heard of any legal tech organizations having live events yet).

Continue Reading Live From West Virginia, It’s the Annual State Bar Association Meeting

I was pleased to hear the recent announcement that Natalie Kelly, the former Director of Law Practice Management for the Georgia State Bar Association, has accepted the position of Director of Legal Management at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC or Center).

 

Natalie is one of my favorite people. Since I hadn’t had the chance to talk with her in a while, I reached out to Natalie recently. I wanted to get her thoughts about her new position. We talked about her new job, the SPLC itself, legal tech, and even the responsibility of law firms and law firm leaders to speak out against hate.

Continue Reading Natalie Kelly: Fighting Hate, Teaching Tolerance, Enhancing Justice