Global Firms and Prestige Brands Upset the Client Service Apple Cart

We saw the first clue pop up in 2014. BTI client interviews revealed global firms investing more in improving their client service performance. Next we found large law budgeting 1/3rd more in client development than other law firms. Now, we see global and prestige brands claiming more than their fair share of the elite BTI Client Service 30.

In each of the last 16 years The BTI Consulting Group conducted more than 300 in-depth interviews with top legal decision makers to probe all aspects of law firm client service. We designed one line of questioning and probes to identify the law firm absolutely best at each of the 17 activities driving superior client service. We provide no prompts, lists or suggestions—nor do we accept self-nominations or referrals. We heard about 295 law firms in total—45% of the law firms serving large companies (with more than $1B in revenue in the US). Of these 295: 30 standout as best—performing 5 to 15 times better than the typical law firm.

While all firms in The BTI Client Service 30 standout for superior client service the following performances warrant especially close attention:

  • Jones Day reclaims the number 1 spot in client service—becoming the only law firm ever to be ranked best of the best in all 17 activities driving superior client service. Jones Day is now making its 9th appearance in the top spot—3 times more often than any other law firm.
  • Dentons moves up to grab the number 2 position. The firm is being as aggressive with client service as it is with growth.
  • Cooley returns to The BTI Client Service 30 in the number 4 spot after a more than 10-year hiatus—leveraging widely respected Innovation into high-powered client service performance. 
  • Wachtell Lipton is ranked number 7 as top legal decision makers credit the firm’s ability to deliver the best value, while anticipating change and understanding their clients’ business.
  • Cravath, Cleary Gottlieb, Paul, Weiss, and Simpson Thacher all rejoined The BTI Client Service 30 this year as top legal decision makers tell us each firm improved their value proposition and was able to become more client-centric in their approach.

New to The BTI Client Service 30

Paul Hastings leveraged a new and deeper understanding of their client’s business while White & Case leveraged improved client focus to drive their inaugural showings in The BTI Client Service 30.

3 Firms Where Client Service Is Part of the Fabric of the Firm

Jones Day, Morgan Lewis, and Sidley Austin have been able to deliver superior client service in each of the 16 years BTI has conducted this analysis. Client service runs through the very fabric—and is embedded deep into the culture—of each firm.

The emergence of these global giants as client service goliaths demands all other law firms up their client service game. The race for clients and new business is far from over and almost any law firm has time to step up to the starting line. The most important step any firm can take is to boost client service with existing clients. The new (and returning) firms have all developed skills in execution and implementation. They bring no structural advantage—but instead bring executional advantage. There is no reason a law firm can’t find a way to execute. It's not easy, but can be done—which is how the next generation of leaders will ultimately emerge.

You can learn the client service strategies and tactics used by The BTI Client Service 30 here. You can see where your firm stands by ordering your copy of the BTI Client Service A-Team 2017: Survey of Law Firm Client Service Performance, which includes a custom comparison of your firm with up to 8 competitors of your choice.