The ‘more for less’ mantra from clients has been causing law firms massive headaches, particularly since the GFC.
From my discussions with GCs, it’s clear they want to be getting more out of their relationship firms. But wanting and asking are two different things. The 2016 Altman Weil Law firms in Transition Survey found that firms weren’t doing more to change the way they delivered legal services because 59% of firm leaders said clients aren’t asking for it!
There also seems to be a wide disparity in the tools and general guidance available to in-house teams for doing so, as well as, for reviewing and/or revitalising their law firm panel arrangements generally. This ranges from the all-singing and dancing guideline down to no guidance at all. For most, it’s somewhere in between, though corporates seem to have struggled to retained the learnings of their previous experience so that information is available to the new GC who has just joined. Anyway, the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) has recently put together as comprehensive a guide as I have seen on the subject of getting more out of your relationship law firms. It’s dense at 80+ pages, but more than useful. It’s called ‘Unless You Ask – A Guide for Law Departments to Get More from External Relationships’ and you can access it here.
Related to this is the trend of corporates reducing the number of their relationship firms, which no doubt helps with the idea of asking of more from those firms. The most extreme recent example is that of Shell slashing its panel firms from 250 to six. I expect we will see more of this trend.