As you reflect on the past year, it is worth taking a moment to consider how your law firms are delivering for you. Are they anticipating your needs? Investing in your relationship? Maintaining a high standard of client service? It is likely that some of your firms have become complacent.

In this competitive legal marketplace, complacency is an unacceptable. There are hundreds of law firms who would love to have your work and who will step-up with the client service that you deserve. With overcapacity and underutilization in law firms continuing to be an issue, it is clear that law firms need your business. Firms that excel at client service are likely to retain or gain your work.

If you are considering looking to add firms beyond your current panel in the new year, you are not alone. Per BTI Consulting, clients, on average, added six new firms in 2015. The clients shared that they are hiring new firms as part of a longer-term plan to phase out those firms that are underperforming.   Hopefully, most of your firms are delivering on basic requirements: handling problems, keeping you informed and navigating unexpected changes. When it comes to being truly client-focused, however, it is a shorter list of firms that are likely providing a good value for the dollar and that are truly client-focused.

What are the most common drivers for our clients who decide to look to new firms?

No longer a good value.

A law firm’s solid offering of five or ten years ago, can become stale in comparison to what others are offering today. Some firms have embraced technology as a means to enhance client service and client offerings, and some have not. When firms are lagging in the investments that enhance the client experience, it is likely they will lose more and more of the business over time. For example, does your firm manage your IP docket? There are many out there who do, and do it as a value-added offering.

Not taking an interest in the business.

Clients want more than just problem-solvers. They are interested in have genuine business partners who are committed to helping them through strategic challenges as well as specific legal issues. Those firms who are just checking boxes begin to fall short and ultimately find themselves on the losing end of an RFP.

Shifts in staff.

It is inevitable that staffing will shift.  Sometimes, however, it has a negative impact on client service.  When a favorite associate graduates to partner and moves off one’s file, the backfill may be underwhelming.  Retirements happen, too.  When long-time partners retire, it is a standard opening to review other offerings.

About the Author – Kathy Heafey is President of BanyanRFP, a cloud-based RFP platform that helps companies control spend on legal services. She has over 20 years of management experience working with large brands such as Pillsbury, Green Giant and Progresso Soup.   A proven leader in Cost Management and Continuous Improvement, she enabled over $20MM in annual cost-savings for General Mills and is now saving in-house legal teams millions of dollars as they find best-fit counsel for their legal work.  For more information, visit

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