Quality Over Quantity: Recent research shows what in-house lawyers look for when outsourcing work

November 8, 2019

2 min read

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What's going on here?

In-house lawyers care more about the advice the firm gives, than fees or diversity.

What does this mean?

When there is a question or a piece of work that cannot be answered internally, in-house lawyers instruct external firms. According to RollOnFriday’s survey of in-house lawyers, it was found that when choosing which firm to instruct, the quality of advice given is a more important factor than the fees they were charged. They also listed the other factors they consider when instructing external firms.

What's the big picture effect?

Many in-house lawyers reported that they have previously instructed cheaper firms only to be left with useless advice. Therefore, it appears in-house lawyers attach little importance to the cost of advice. This is likely to be why, when asked what the most important factor was when instructing a firm, the majority of in-house lawyers chose the quality of advice.

Other respondents felt that the strength of the existing relationship was the most instrumental factor when instructing a firm, stressing the importance of rapport and perks. A trip to a nice restaurant appears to be an excellent persuasive tool, given that they are likely to spend a small fortune on legal advice, and therefore the occasional dinner or taxi is expected. In fact, according to the survey, firms were advised not to be restrictive with their spending. However, some in-house lawyers complained that “lawyers who took us out for dinner lacked table manners and didn’t seem to be able to eat properly”, “it was embarrassing” and “awkward one-on-one lunches” were definitely something to avoid.

Customer service was also cited as an important attribute for external lawyers. Many lawyers were criticised for their lack of communication, whilst others bombarded clients with correspondence. Many respondents also stated that they do not wish to receive emails outside of business hours, especially if they are unnecessary; phone calls, email correspondence and advice should be kept brief. In-house lawyers expect a bespoke service, not one in which they are inundated with “waffle”.

Interestingly, diversity was not something that mattered to all in-house lawyers. This was because many believe they can spot superficial attempts to increase diversity, and only valued genuine attempts to achieve a diverse workforce.

One tip that the respondents had for firms was to invest in technology and artificial intelligence, in order to reduce fees. However, ultimately, in-house lawyers wanted firms to improve their own reputation, at whatever cost.

Report written by Sarina Johal

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