Clients Demand More, Get More: Happiest with Law Firms in 3 Years

Client investment—both financial and emotional—in law firms jumps after a 3-year decline. In 2014, 40.1% of corporate counsel recommend their primary law firm to a peer, up from 31.4% in 2013. Increasing client investment can be good or bad news—it all depends on whether or not your client is investing in your firm.  


Corporate counsel are taking the time to better articulate their expectations of law firms and working harder to ensure their law firm understands. BTI’s newest research shows law firms are listening—and acting.

High-performing law firms are stepping up to meet the challenging demands laid out by clients. These firms are enjoying quantum leaps (6% to 11% higher growth) in performance and earning more business than before. Clients say the firms they use and recommend to others are focusing on 3 core demands:

1. Specificity

How does your counsel impact your client—not in the general letter of the law sense, but what specific impact will your advice have on their business and the unique circumstances in which they operate? Legal advice is widely available. Targeted guidance meshing with clients’ specific needs is the rare four-leaf clover clients seek.  

2. Investment

Are you investing your own time and money in this specific relationship? A client relationship is not a one-way street of the client paying and a firm providing legal services. Clients expect you to add to the relationship—bring new insights, help avoid costly risks, leverage lessons learned to improve efficiency, help in ways you haven’t helped before. Your investment is the cost of new business. Clients want to invest (financially and emotionally) in equally invested firms. If clients sense a lack of investment, the work will be bid out.

3. Engagement

Different than investment, engagement is about showing (through your behavior and interaction) an active interest in the client’s business and how it is changing. Do you ask about the client’s business strategy? Have you read the latest business plan? What new product plans are on the horizon? Did you ask? Clients want law firms to continuously scan for new understanding and knowledge in all forms. The best law firms use continuous engagement to provide new ideas to help the client’s organization move forward on multiple fronts.

Stop for a moment and enjoy the current rise in client investment—if you are one of the firms earning it. The challenge for any firm is to stay one step ahead of clients’ goals and outpace competitors looking to unseat you as a client’s primary provider. The key is to keep talking to and interacting with your client—and change before your client does.

MBR/JPD