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

Category Archives: Commentary

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Discovery by boilerplate. Can we end it?

Posted in Commentary, General

I have long hated boilerplate objections, which frequently are made to “kick the can” down the road. That is, if you object to a request are “unduly burdensome” or “overbroad,” you can avoid answering for now and have more time to figure out what the answer is. Or maybe your opponent will forget about the… Continue Reading

BigLaw: Another step in a relentless, vicious circle

Posted in Client Service, Commentary, Hourly Rates and Alternatives

When lost in the desert or a thick forest terrains devoid of landmarks people tend to walk in circles. Blindfolded people show the same tendency; lacking external reference points, they curve around in loops as tight as 66 feet (20 meters) in diameter, all the while believing they are walking in straight lines. Livescience.com This… Continue Reading

Dream big. Why not?

Posted in Commentary, General

As a young boy, I vividly remember following Bobby Kennedy’s Presidential campaign. Like his brother Jack, Bobby was greatly admired in my Irish-American household. His death was met with great sadness. I sat riveted during Teddy’s eulogy, and my mind was seized when he said this: As he said many times, in many parts of… Continue Reading

An example of where elite businesses go, but law firms fear to tread

Posted in Commentary, General

The title is simple enough: success = experimentation.  Here is Peter Diamandis’ thesis: Today’s most successful companies, the ones that are “crushing it,” started as a series of crazy ideas, followed by experiments to test just how viable those ideas might be. Experimentation is a crucial mechanism for driving breakthroughs in any organization. If you… Continue Reading

Econ 101: If you increase expenses more than you increase revenue, profits will be lower

Posted in Commentary, Leadership and Management

You just can’t make this stuff up.  A recent ABA Journal article, Some law firm leaders question associate pay hikes amid tepid year, caught my eye. The Peer Monitor report stated: Firms were squeezed by a perfect storm of slumping demand and rising headcount. The ABA Journal article reports: The economic forces have led some… Continue Reading

GE, like McDonalds, is outsourcing some corporate functions. How soon before it happens with law departments?

Posted in Commentary, Trends and Innovations

My last post recounted McDonalds’ creation of its own ad agency and posited the question whether bespoke law firms could be far behind.  Enter GE.  Yes, that GE. According to CFO.com, GE is transferring about 600 of its tax professionals to PwC: Reacting to what it sees as increasing uncertainty about tax rules in the… Continue Reading

McDonalds creates its own ad agency. Can bespoke law firms be far behind?

Posted in Client Service, Commentary, Trends and Innovations

Several years ago, I was part of a proposal to a large tech company to create a custom, build-to-suit, build-to-serve law firm to handle the company’s IP work.  The company showed interest, but ultimately it was too big a leap to make. That was then.  Crain’s Chicago Business is reporting today on an ad created… Continue Reading

Valorem turns 9!

Posted in Commentary, General

    Today, my partners and I celebrate Valorem’s 9th birthday. When you celebrate a big birthday like this, you have to turn to the Chairman of the Board for insight. One of my favorite Frank songs is “That’s Life.”  While not perfect for the occassion (the message would be better if it were written… Continue Reading

Six Pricing Action Items from Buying Legal Council Procurement event

Posted in Client Service, Commentary, Pricing

Anyone who sells legal services to corporate America knows the important role procurement professionals play in the acquisition of legal services.  Dr. Silvia Hodges Silverstein leads the premier group for legal procurement, Buying Legal Council. The group allows procurement professionals to learn, from each other and from outsiders Silvia brings into group discussions.  The group… Continue Reading

Valorem Honored to be Named to 2017 BTI Consulting Client Service A-Team

Posted in Client Service, Commentary, Selection of counsel

  My Valorem colleagues and I are honored to have been named to the 2017 BTI Client Service A-Team.   This is our fifth consecutive year to have been named to the A-Team. BTI’s identified the firms awarded this distinction based on over 330 in-depth interviews of General Counsels, direct reports to GCs and other key… Continue Reading

Prevention Is The Answer To The Question of How Law Departments Can Do More With Less

Posted in Client Service, Commentary, Prevention

According to a survey of corporate counsel at large U.S. corporations reported by Law.com, nearly 70% of law departments expect their annual operating budget to be flat or decrease in 2017. Let me say that again—nearly 70% of law departments expect that annual operating budget to be flat or decrease in 2017. And we know… Continue Reading

Consulting? A natural way to share the many lessons we’ve learned over the years.

Posted in Client Service, Client Surveys and Audits, Commentary, Hourly Rates and Alternatives, Marketing, Branding and Sales, Prevention, Trends and Innovations

Something interesting happened recently.  Jeff Carr, Nicole Auerbach and I consulted with a client about how to improve the law department’s performance and save money.  Shortly afterwards, Nicole and I consulted with a law firm about moving to alternative fee arrangements.  The interesting thing was that we found ourselves enjoying being consultants.  We found, in… Continue Reading

Lead change or hang on for dear life

Posted in Commentary

Change is.  Years ago, many people debated whether the legal industry was changing.  Truth be told, the debate was silly.  Change is.  The only question is the speed of change.  It used to be slow.  It took years to move from fountain pens to ball point pens, from wet copy machines to dry, and so… Continue Reading

“Be in the space you want to be in.”

Posted in Commentary

My friend John Chisholm sent me an article on why diversity programs in law firms are failing. (Talk about a small world–An Aussie sending an article from a Canadian publication to a guy in Chicago!)  The article includes this quote, from a Stanford Law White Paper: These broader problems are complex and multifaceted, and have… Continue Reading

Solving the High Cost of Litigation, Valorem style

Posted in Commentary, Trends and Innovations

Litigation costs too much. Why? Because it is overburdened with process and tolerated but unnecessary excess.  And who benefits from the focus on process and needless discovery and motion practice? Lawyers.  Who designs the processes and rules for discovery?  Lawyers. And who benefits economically from this focus on rules and process? Lawyers. Lawyers are the… Continue Reading

Clear writing makes a difference

Posted in Commentary, General

Clear writing makes a difference. For the skeptic, we now have proof. Using 50 readability measures, the study’s authors found that by a huge amount, a more readable, easy to understand brief is more likely to prevail over a less readable brief. So what is clear writing? For me, it means avoiding adjectives. Adjectives are… Continue Reading

Some thoughts on the importance of word choices

Posted in Commentary, General

I feel like I am under assault. From CNN: Somebody else, who has never shown any regard for workers, has never fought on behalf of social justice issues … they don’t suddenly become a populist because they say something controversial in order to win votes,” Obama said. “That’s not a measure of populism. That’s nativism,… Continue Reading

AFAs are finally catching on, but so much more is possible

Posted in Client Service, Commentary, Hourly Rates and Alternatives

Michael Rynowecer of BTI Consulting had a great, must-read post today on his Mad Clientist blog. In the post, which I strongly recommend, Michael makes these points: Spending on AFAs is way up—nearly 20% CAGR over 4 years Outside counsel spend under AFAs jumped to over 35% Almost 70% of companies The reported savings from… Continue Reading

A special note of thanks to our clients

Posted in Commentary

I wrote my first blog post on April 10, 2005, and I have published 968 posts since then.  To be candid, not all of the posts related to client service issues, the blog’s name notwithstanding.  But a good many of the posts have addressed client service.  It has been a passion of mine since long… Continue Reading