ALM Properties, Inc.
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Listening to What Corporate Clients Expect from Outside Counsel
Any relationship counselor will tell you that good communication is crucial to a thriving partnership. As with couples, sometimes legal departments and their outside counsel arent on the same page. A recent survey by ALM Legal Intelligence (ALI), a sibling organization of CorpCounsel.com, sought to identify disconnects in the collaboration process between law firms and their corporate clients.
Forty-four percent of legal departments said appropriate document formatting for easy navigation is a must. According to the report, firms can exceed client expectations by quickly turning around easily navigated documents that can be reviewed on multiple electronic device types, including smartphones and tablets.
Law firms can use technology as a safeguard against the risks associated with the incorporation of prior work product into new documents.
Instead of using technological resources to validate documents, many firms have their lawyers manually check for editing mistakes and other errors. Nine out of 10 legal departments said that they expect firms will have paralegals and other support staff review legal documents for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, yet only 46 percent of firms said they do so. One legal department respondent said, Some law firms dont keep up-to-date with technology, dont know how to effectively use what they have, or dont explain options to clients.
Sixty-nine percent of legal department respondents indicated being satisfied or very satisfied with the collaboration process. But only 27 percent said there has been a lot of improvement to the exchange over the last two years. And while 32 percent of clients prefer to contribute content to documents, only 17 percent desire content contribution from clients. Thirty-nine percent of law firms said that they prefer a one-directional process in which the client provides comments only. Fifty-five percent of legal departments prefer a back-and-forth process, while only 42 percent of law firms want that.
In-house clients and their outside counsel agree that the exchange and review process could be more efficient. About a quarter said the process goes relatively quickly. Both sides identified the high volume of email associated with the process as the top challenge.