New research from Lawyers Weekly and Momentum Intelligence shows that while corporate lawyers are broadly satisfied with their outside vendors across various metrics, these in-house teams are largely unconvinced that they should recommend those vendors.
The Top 25 Attraction Firms ranking, now in its eighth edition, is a key element of the Legal Firm of Choice survey, which identifies the most in-demand private law firms across the country.
This most recent survey was conducted between 14 November and 13 December 2022 and received a total of 462 responses capturing the attitudes, priorities and perceptions of legal professionals in Australia – including 104 in-house counsel.
Last week, Lawyers Weekly published the Top 25 Attraction Law Firms Ranking for 2022-23, detailing which firms in-house attorneys would most like to join. Findings also emerged last week that a quarter of lawyers plan to leave their current offices and will do so in the coming months, and which lawyers are most likely to leave in the near future.
First own insights
Polling in-house respondents for the first time, the Legal Firm of Choice Survey looked at, among other things, which law firms were hired with legal departments, how many law firms were engaged by their own legal department in the past year, whether there were in-house professionals would their selected firms recommend to others and how they would rate the performance of the contracted companies.
Net Promoter Score
Internal respondents were asked: “How likely is it that you would recommend each of them? [your utilised] outside law firms to a friend or colleague?’
As detailed by Momentum Intelligence in its report, participants were given a choice on a scale from 1 (not recommended at all) to 10 (very likely). Scores of 9 and 10 are considered promoters, scores of 7 and 8 are considered passive, and scores between 1 and 6 are considered detractors.
Momentum Intelligence director Michael Johnson noted that the Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a “widely recognized metric that is valuable in understanding customer relationship satisfaction, loyalty and growth.”
“It’s a key indicator of a successful business and gives context to the likelihood of growth through word of mouth,” he explained.
“When companies have more supporters than critics, the company is likely to grow.”
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According to the results, less than three in ten (28 percent) of in-house counsel are advocates of the outside vendors on their legal advisory boards — meaning more than seven in 10 in-house counsel are unlikely to recommend the firms they hire to their peers in the marketplace .
Almost half (46 percent) of in-house lawyers are passive when asked whether they are likely to recommend their law firm, while one in four (26 percent) is considered a critic – i.e. rather unlikely to recommend the companies commissioned.
The NPS, based on all respondents, was 1.31.
Broken down by gender, it appears that female corporate lawyers tend to be more generous with their referrals, with 31 percent of female respondents listed as promoters compared to just one in five (20 percent) of males.
However, women were also more likely to be critics at 28 percent compared to 23 percent of men.
Most male respondents (57 percent) are passive when asked whether they would recommend the firm to their legal department, compared to 41 percent of women.
The gender NPS was 3.18 for female respondents and -3.49 for male respondents.
state by state
Elsewhere, accountability breakdowns vary widely.
In Victoria and Tasmania, two in five (41 percent) in-house counsel are likely to recommend their outside providers to peers, with just 11 percent of in-house counsel in those states listed as detractors, giving an NPS of 29.11.
Those in South Australia and Western Australia had very strong views in one way or another – 38 per cent were supporters while 33 per cent were detractors, giving an NPS of 4.76.
However, positive impressions and recommendations are much harder to come by for those hired by business consultants in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland.
In NSW and ACT, 22 percent are supporters and 32 percent are dissenters (NPS of -9.57), while in QLD only 17 percent are supporters and 28 percent are dissenters (NPS of -11.11).
Jerome Doraisamy, editor of Lawyers Weekly, said readers could compare these results to those published last week on overall satisfaction with outside providers on metrics like communication and value for money, but stressed that a such a comparison must be made on the basis of the values of management consultants: “extreme satisfaction” versus “satisfaction”.
“NPS logic means that only respondents who score 9 or 10 are likely to recommend their law firm. In contrast to the evaluations of external providers on certain key figures – only 11 percent of in-house lawyers are “extremely satisfied” with the price-performance ratio and only 16 percent are “extremely satisfied” with the performance of their law firms in terms of cyber and data security. – These latest findings bring sharp focus,” he advised.
The key takeaway for law firms from the research, Mr Doraisamy said, is that there is a lot of room for improvement – not just so that one’s firm can be recommended to other legal departments, but so that the firm can remain on legal advisory boards at all.
“In the face of a possible recession, it’s crucial that law firms ensure the quality of their services is optimized – especially given that only one in four (25 percent) of management consultants are currently ‘extremely satisfied’ with this metric,” he warned.
To read Lawyers Weekly’s full coverage of the latest law firm survey, see below: