How law firms can get on the “preferred list”: Altman Weil’s CLO survey

We’re long past the age when a law firm could be kept in business solely on the basis of a personal client-counsel relationship. With RFPs becoming increasingly common and companies devising “preferred firm” short lists, the focus has shifted away from maintaining relationships, and towards maintaining preferential status.

Altman Weil graph

This is not news, but it does raise the basic question: if relationships are no longer sacrosanct, then what are the factors that most influence decision-making around which firms are “preferred” firms? They’re not well documented, but in April’s Legal Departments column, Richard Stock of Catalyst Consulting explores a survey by Altman Weil that targets that critical issue.

The survey canvassed more than 200 legal departments, asking chief legal officers to rank the factors that most influenced their selection of a law firm.

The top six “influencers” and their median ratings (out of 10) were: demonstrated understanding of the business (9); referrals/recommendations (8); personal contact (6); written materials demonstrating the expertise of the lawyer (6); free seminars, CLE, etc. (4); and branding as a full-service firm (4).

Note that referrals and recommendations and personal contact (i.e., the relationship stuff that isn’t supposed to matter so much anymore) still ranks highly, but CLOs are no longer placing it at the top of the heap.

The survey also asked respondents to list other influential factors that may not have been listed in the survey. “In order of importance,” writes Stock, “these were: subject-matter expertise, track record of success, prior relationships, and low cost.”

Read Richard Stock’s Legal Departments column in its entirety right here on Lexpert‘s digital edition.

–David Dias

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