An Easy Way to Detect Law Firm BS

Back in my software industry days, our company president (the wonderful Sally Von Bargen) was ahead of her time when it came to a relentless focus on customer experience. Her term: Outrageous Customer Service. She was also fond of pithy management one-liners that, despite their folksy wisdom (or maybe because of it), were highly effective in driving the right kinds of behaviors among her teams.

One that pops into my head quite a bit lately (given my recent experiences with BigLaw) is an elegant little rhyme: Measure what you Treasure.

Since my last post I’ve had a number of very interesting conversations around a similar theme: a lot of law firms are doing a lot of talking about innovation and client value, but their actual progress often runs the gamut from tentative steps to downright vaporware.

Many firms have appointed some sort of “Chief Innovation Officer,” and even more have made some sort of formal statement regarding their commitment to client value. (If your firm doesn’t have such a statement, that is a statement too.)

But how can you tell whether their statements really drive firm behavior as opposed to being just another marketing gloss?

Ask them one simple question:

“What do you measure to make sure you’re delivering on your client value promises?” 

If the firm is serious about their commitments, then they’ll be using some metric to tell them whether they’re on track (and they’ll happily admit this). But if they’re not measuring, expect a long-winded response that doesn’t really answer the question. And that will speak volumes.

As I’ve mentioned before, I believe that part of the reason law firms aren’t doing more to innovate around client value delivery is that clients aren’t asking for enough. And while the ACC’s Unless You Ask guide is a good start, it speaks to a number of topics that many firms aren’t yet addressing, even if they should be.

So start with the low-hanging fruit: Ask your firm about the things they already claim to be doing. Just type the firm name into Google and append the term “Values” or “Client Value Statement” to the search to see what they say. Then ask your relationship partner (or add a question to your next RFx) how you can be sure they’re walking the walk and not just shining you on.

Are you part of an in-house legal team looking to get more out of your outside counsel relationships? Are you trying to drive better efficiency in your own practices? Schedule a call with me to learn how I might be able to help. Or, if you just want to engage with a growing community of legal innovators, join the Agile Attorneys Slack Group.

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