First, some excerpts…though click on to for more of the detail.

One (of several) of Legal Week’s articles on the results includes the following:

“…though clients remain generally impressed with the quality of legal advice and service they get …general satisfaction has declined across the board against 2009, and particularly on cost issues.

This lack of satisfaction also comes during a period when the report suggests that clients are becoming more demanding. In 2009, clients on average rated the importance of ‘quality of legal advice’ as 9 out of 10, a figure that rises to 9.4 this year even as average satisfaction rating has fallen.

There’s a similar pattern for other criteria with ‘cost/billing practice’ and ‘service delivery/responsiveness’ being rated as more important than in 2009 while satisfaction levels have again dipped.”

It’s also interesting that the top rated of the top 20 firm’s achieves an average satisfaction rate of 7.7/10.  

Frankly, this ain’t great.  There are few sectors of the market place where the highest scoring provider would get an average of 7.7 for customer satisfaction.  The flip side of this is the sheer prize for any firm that does differentiate…and, eventually, some will.

Think of the 3 broad areas that Legal Week refers to.    

Quality of legal advice. Potentially a “given” in some minds, but most of the clients of law firms we talk to incorporate the applicability and commerciality of legal advice into “quality”. Are firms doing enough and communicating properly here?

 Service Delivery/Responsiveness.  Some law firm clients rave about the accessibility and responsiveness of their key contacts and the insight they have into progress on transactions. Other’s don’t – and we find that it is one of the areas which most regularly determines whether a firm is retained…or not.

Cost/Billing Practice.  Its easy, but potentially dangerous to equate this to “level of fees”.  That is only part of the story.  Law firm clients we speak to are more concerned about the predictability and transparency of fees, rather than getting the “lowest cost” job.  Firms who can effectively describe the value of what they do and react effectively to the demand for clearer billing practice gain a financial reward.

It is a brave firm which doesn’t gain objective feedback from a representative set of its clients.  While Legal Week’s research is insightful, each firm needs to respond to what its clients are saying, and manage its engagements with clients effectively. 

Some readers may find the “CRM – the Truth in Professional Services” benchmark study, available from or useful in thinking through how to manage this – and how to avoid the risks clearly shown by Legal Week’s report.

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