In-house lawyers value responsiveness and understanding of their business above value for money when outsourcing work to external lawyers, a new study has found.
The research, published in Thompson Reuters’ new survey, Differentiation factor: What do businesses value most from external counsel?, looked at the qualities most sought after by more than 200 in-house lawyers.
Specialist expertise was the third most sought after trait, followed by price and innovative service delivery using technology.
The most sought after traits were responsiveness and understanding of a particular business.
Respondents pointed out that they regularly had to “chase” firms after contracts were secured.
Rachel Xuereb, senior corporate counsel at Expedia, told researchers: “I’ve had law firms saying they will get back to me within two days and then when those two days are up, they say it will take longer.
“That puts me in a difficult position because I have to then go back to my client and let them know I am unable to get back to them in the timeframe I had agreed.”
When paying for services, an overwhelming 95 per cent of in-house lawyers valued transparency above all else. This was followed by flexible payment, of which 65 per cent thought was important.
Around 60 per cent said a breakdown of hourly fees was key in order to compare firms.
The option of fixed or capped fees was equally as significant.
“We far prefer to have fixed or capped fees. This is a big factor in our decision-making process and most firms accommodate capped fees, though not all offer discounted fees,” said a respondent on behalf of a fund management company.
“It depends on how important we are to them. We normally agree an hourly rate and a cap and if the hourly rate is less we pay that.”