Lawyers at large law firms in Canada and the United States believe being reliable and trustworthy is what wins repeat business from companies, according to a survey commissioned by Robert Half Legal.
The survey asked 150 lawyers: “When clients are deciding whether or not to continue working with your firm, which one of the following attributes or considerations would you say ranks highest on their priority list?”
Forty-five per cent of lawyers checked reliability and trust; 20 per cent checked relationship with client; and 14 per cent checked industry-specific knowledge. Just nine per cent selected meeting deadlines and timelines, and seven per cent felt bill rates were clients’ top priority. One per cent ranked diversity at the firm as most critical and four per cent chose other or didn’t know.
Above all, clients want to work with law firms that pull through by delivering results on all the projects they’ve worked on, explains Lara Dodo, a vice-president of Robert Half Legal.
“Legal issues and proceedings are often of a sensitive nature, so it’s evident that trust, reliability, and the overall quality of the relationship with one’s client takes precedence over issues like billing rates,” she says.
Dodo says the company decided to interview lawyers instead of clients because lawyers in large firms could offer a broader perspective about what clients look for because they are exposed to numerous clients.
The results reflect a change in the way clients view the role of lawyers because they are now seen as business partners, says Dodo.
“Once considered general legal and business advisers, lawyers have since become far more specialized, and thought of as legal technicians who focus on specific transactions,” she says.
She adds that understanding the company’s corporate culture and the nuances of the client’s business is also key to strengthening the lawyer-client relationship.