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In Search of Perfect Client Service Why lawyers don't seem to get it

The Value Challenge

Posted in Client Service, Commentary, People, Places and Blawgs

The Marketplace section of today’s Wall Street Journal  features the headline, "Food Marketers Cook Up ‘Value’ Campaigns."  Seems like, in today’s world, value is is de rigueur.  We at Valorem certainly hope that it informs purchasing decisions in the legal world.

What?!?!?!?  Value in the legal world?  Yes.

I’m being serious here.

I know, it’s hard to believe.  The law, particularly BigLaw, is not where one would look to find a focus on value.  Until now, the focus has been on buying and selling hours–high priced hours.  I’ve written before about the Perfect Storm altering the profession.  But evidence is accumulating that change is coming faster than many believe.

On Friday, the Association of Corporate Counsel unveiled its Value Challenge, which ACC describes this way:

The ACC Value Challenge seeks to reconnect value to costs for legal services. Our aim is to provide networks, tools, and dialog for both in-house and outside counsel to help us all better manage our clients’ legal affairs.

I was on-hand at the launch on Friday.  It was an impressive affair, with a number of prominent in-house lawyers and representatives of several large firms reflecting on the necessity of change.  ACC’s goal in spearheading this effort is provide their members the tools and support needed to change the way legal services are consumed, with the anticipation that firms are smart enough to see that change will help them attract the clients looking for value instead of hours.  Nothing but best wishes to Susan Hackett and her fabulous team who have worked incredibly hard to start the ball rolling.  The success of this effort won’t be able to be judged for several years (it is the legal profession–change does happen at a pace somewhat slower than the business world), but if the launch reflects the future, the legal profession will look back to Friday as a watershed moment.

On this same note, I draw your attention to an article by Paul Lippe, CEO of Legal On Ramp, in today’s The AmLaw Daily,  Paul’s article is Welcome To The Future: Law After The Boom.  Among Paul’s many important points:

Many folks in law firms have come to believe that the law business operates according to a different set of economic rules than their clients’ businesses, but the truth is much simpler: when you’re inside a boom, you always think your industry has achieved immunity from the laws of gravity because it’s the only reality you can see. I was in Silicon Valley in 1998, believe me, I know.

Paul characterizes his goal this way:

I will relentlessly challenge the conventional wisdom of today’s law firms. Those of you who think I’m way off, I ask, indeed beg, that you comment on my post and explain why I’m wrong.

I, for one, think he is right on the money.

Let me close this post with a quote from General Eric Shinseki, Retired Chief of Staff of the United States Army:

If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.

Welcome to the revolution.