How Clients Hire: Top Clients Impose Law Firm Hiring Moratorium

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A group of forward-looking top legal decision makers have stopped hiring new law firms.

“I am tired of spending my time listening to the same old story. They all say the same things. There is no point. It isn’t like I don’t know what I am going to get. I’ll work with the firms I have,” explains an SVP of a large financial services company. If your firm hasn’t done any work for these clients in the recent past, you don’t exist.

While representing no more than 15% of clients—they control more than 30% of US legal spending.* Their plan: Drive the law firms with whom they want to work into better performance. These clients plan to:

  • Initiate discussions about legal strategy for key matters
  • Ask for options before getting too deep into a matter
  • Convince law firms to adopt tools to get things done with budget predictability
  • Keep their law firms advised of their plans to help them be prepared for what’s coming
  • Give feedback—regularly. Clients plan to point out inconsistencies in service and delivery and tell you exactly where and how to improve—mostly in process and communication

Your client is unlikely to announce this new change. And, they will only engage with a few of their firms. Clients don’t have the time or energy to drive change at all their law firms. Only a few firms will emerge stronger and larger as the decision makers gravitate to the top performers and those who embrace their changes.

You can pick up on the clues quickly through well designed client feedback. The non-feedback firms will have to pay close attention to every client request and communication to be able to try to figure out what clients want.

The only safe bet to be one of the chosen few is to behave as though your large client is going to develop a better and bigger relationship with you—and YOU initiate the feedback process. We recommend starting with fresh and broad feedback from everyone with whom you work at your large clients. This means many interviews at a single large client (our record at BTI is 39 individuals at a single client, so far).

Analyze the feedback and share the results with attorneys serving your client. Then—be daring—share the major findings with your clients along with suggestions for how you plan to improve. Ask your clients for their suggestions. Then—change.

If you need help developing the questions, tools to analyze the insight, or recommendations, please feel free to reach me at mrynowecer@bticonsulting.com.

At the same time, treat any requests to attend client meetings about operations, upcoming plans, and almost any other topic as a juicy invitation to be briefed on how to get more business.

MBR

PS. Don't miss out on our upcoming Market Outlook and Client Service Review webinar on January 18 at Noon Eastern. You can learn more or register here.

*Based on BTI research conducted on a rolling basis between February 2017 and December 2017. BTI conducted more than 350 independent, individual interviews with CLOs and General Counsel at Fortune 1000 companies and large organizations.