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Quality of law firm management key to new instructions

Prospective clients will not instruct firms that appear poorly managed, survey finds

4 October 2012

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

The strength of a law firm’s management is a key client consideration when deciding which firm to instruct, an international market survey has found.

Just over half of responding clients said their impression of whether a firm is well managed is an essential precondition of selection. A further 36 per cent said it is important but not essential.

Clients noted that the priority of law firm management should be to define the firm’s specialist and sector focus (69 per cent) and to invest in technology and systems that will enable the firm to deliver a more consistent service (44 per cent).

Nearly half of responding clients said that firm management should also focus on formally measuring fee-earner performance and client satisfaction. By contrast, just under a quarter of responding managing partners said this is a priority.

Two fifths of responding clients said that managing partners should also ensure transparency of fee structures and shape internal attitudes towards clients.

Eighty per cent of responding clients said they expect a more consistent level of service from advisory firms.

When rating the service provided by law firms, 54 per cent of clients rated lawyers highly for technical competence, but much less so for proactiveness (22 per cent) and the contribution of firm management (18 per cent).

Three quarters of responding clients said they require firms to know their organisation’s strategy and plans. A further two thirds said they expect managing partners to have knowledge of industry sector issues and trends.

In addition, over two thirds said they want more value added extras from their advisers.

The report by the Financial Times and Managing Partners’ Forum is based on 569 survey responses from around the world, of which 36 per cent are from client businesses and 64 per cent are from advisory firms across the legal, accounting, property and consulting sectors.

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