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GCC NEWS FEATURE

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Companies Dissatisfied with Outside Counsel [By Jen Woods] Corporate America is not happy with its outside counsel, according to a recent client-service survey. Only 32% of surveyed executives said they would recommend firms that worked for them, and 70% said they were dissatisfied with their primary law firms.

BTI Consulting Group has conducted its sixth

and secondary firms. For the first time in

are unhappy, Sessions said. Her firm has a

annual survey, “How Clients Hire, Fire, and

six years, BTI found that clients paid more

client-satisfaction program that is designed

Spend: Landing the World’s Best Client.”

money to secondary firms than they did to

to get feedback, both positive and negative,

BTI President Michael Rynowecer led the

their primary firms. The average client paid

from clients, she explained.

team of researchers, which interviewed

43% of its total budget to outside counsel

more than 200 corporate counsel and top

and nearly 40% of its total budget to outside

Other firms, including Cleveland-based

executives from Fortune 1000 companies

counsel.

Thompson Hine, have developed clientsurvey programs to identify what clients

over the past year to find out how they rated According to the survey results, more than

want from firms. Thompson Hine’s survey

half of the respondents-about 54%-had

questions are very specific, allowing the

The top five law firms, according to the

either replaced or demoted a primary firm in

law firm to identify such preferences as

survey, include Sidley Austin, Jones Day,

the last 18 months.

preferred billing dates and preferred modes

their outside legal counsel.

of communication, Avidas Jasin, Director of

Holland & Knight, Reed Smith, and Baker & McKenzie. These firms received high ratings

Three factors, in particular, are leading

Business Development at Thompson Hine,

for several reasons. “The major components

to companies’ dissatisfaction with outside

told the Daily Record.

of client satisfaction are the ability to make

counsel. Companies are unhappy when law

legal expertise client-specific, to understand

firms fail to keep up with clients’ changing

According to the survey results, many more

the client’s business, to go beyond what’s

needs, fail to articulate the value they

law firms will be hired in 2006. About half of

anticipated, and to achieve the client’s

deliver, and fail to communicate efficiently

the respondents reported that they planned

goals,” Rynowecer told the ABA Journal.

with clients, according to the survey.

to seek services from at least one new firm

Only about 30.7% of corporate counsel

However, it is becoming increasingly difficult

surveyed were satisfied with their primary

to provide legal services to corporate clients,

law firms, compared with 43.5% in 2005. The

as law firms and companies continue to grow

decline this year has been the most dramatic

in size. “When the client was smaller, it was

BTI Consulting Group

since BTI began conducting its annual survey.

easier to achieve a sense of connectedness

www.bticonsulting.com

in the near future. ON THE NET

and a relationship of trust,” Ralph Baxter, Also, an increasing number of corporate

Chairman of San Francisco-based Orrick,

Thompson Hine, LLP

counsel are seeking services from fewer

Herrington & Sutcliffe, told the ABA Journal.

www.thompsonhine.com/home

used 52 firms last year-two primary firms, 11

“Clients won’t always tell you that they have

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

secondary firms, and 39 case-specific firms.

a problem,” Barbara Sessions, Marketing

www.orrick.com

law firms. The average company surveyed

Partner at Chicago-based Winston & Strawn, In addition, the survey results indicate that

told the ABA Journal. Law firms should

there is less distinction between top firms

encourage their clients to speak up if they

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Companies Dissatisfied with Outside Counsel