Corporate Law News – General Counsel want more targeted information from law firms

Hubbard One survey provides new insights on how law firms can effectively communicate with top legal officers

CHICAGO and LONDON, June 27 2012: New research has indicated just how hungry in-house legal executives are for customized and ever more targeted value-based content from the world’s leading law firms.

The research – conducted by Hubbard One, a leading provider of marketing and business development solutions and a Thomson Reuters business – documents the growing need for greater customization of communications, such as email alerts and web content, to meet the needs and expectations of global General Counsel (GCs).

The survey results – gathered from more than 40 in-house legal officers across the US, UK and Europe – provide new insights into the needs and expectations of GCs when it comes to communication with law firms, ranging from website, email and social media effectiveness to the impact of online collaboration and relationship automation tools.

And although the desire for tailored content may represent an unseized opportunity for law firms to build GC relationships and differentiate themselves from the pack, concerns over the amount of personal information they are willing to divulge in order to allow this to happen are a critical issue. In fact, over 70% of surveyed GCs were ‘very unlikely’ or ‘unlikely’ to provide the personal information necessary to allow law firms to tailor their communications.

Respondents provided a number of reasons for not giving personal information to law firms, with privacy remaining a real issue for content individualization. Results show that 44% found providing personal information to be too intrusive, while one-third of respondents had concerns about data security. Additionally, 56% were unwilling to spend the necessary time providing such information.

Among the other major findings of the survey were that:

§ Law firms need to change the way they use social media. Two-thirds (69%) of respondents found existing overall engagement by law firms on social media ‘not very valuable’, and a quarter ‘not very valuable at all.’ Although they perceive that law firms are not utilizing these channels effectively at the moment, GCs indicate a willingness to engage more if relevant content was available.

§ Blogs and LinkedIn are the most popular digital channels for GCs. Despite the overall hesitation in terms of social media, 60% of respondents do visit blogs and 60% use LinkedIn for general work purposes. Both channels were cited as notable sources of information about law firms (35% and 26%, respectively).

§ Quick and easy access to relevant web content is key. Although visits to law firm websites were often short and practical, respondents indicated that it is crucial that sites are regularly updated and able to provide the necessary content or detail required swiftly and easily. The most important features of a website for respondents were clear and usable navigation (34%) and relevant and valuable content (31%).

§ Attorney profiles are the most important destination on law firm websites. 40% of respondents spent the most time looking at this section of a firm’s website, with practice areas and service offerings noted as a top destination by only 22%. Surprisingly, news and publication sections were considered least popular, with only 7% of respondents spending the majority of their time there.

§ Relationship automation is expected to have the greatest impact on law firms and GC communication. 30% of respondents said that relationship automation platforms (with e-billing being the most common form) were most likely to impact how they select, communicate and collaborate with law firms over the next three years, with other important areas being cloud computing (22%) and web intelligence/data analytics (16%).

“It’s crystal clear that there is a sea change underway in terms of the interaction between law firms and GCs. Many law firms are missing the mark when it comes to the need to tailor communications and content for GCs,” said John Simpson, senior director of interactive marketing at Hubbard One.

“In many ways, law firms no longer have the upper hand – it’s become a buyer’s market. If firms are to have a chance of winning and retaining work in this environment, they need to differentiate themselves by providing relevant content that helps GCs do their jobs more effectively. Until then, law firms will be leaving behind valuable opportunities to showcase their knowledge to top in-house legal officers, whether they are existing clients or prospects.”

The full report – Building Relationships with Global General Counsel: How Firms Can Use Targeted Content and Experience to Win and Retain Business – is available for download at: http://www.hubbardone.com/building-relationships-with-global-general-counsel

Hubbard One, part of Thomson Reuters, is the leading provider of marketing and business development software and solutions for law firms. Our approach – which blends technical expertise, cutting-edge software, and a specialist understanding of the law firm environment – enables our clients to make the most of their information and steer a course of growth for their firms. Our capabilities combine creative design, innovative technology, and industry intelligence in order to deliver unique insights to our clients and empower them to evolve their businesses. For more information, go to www.hubbardone.com.

Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters is the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. We combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision makers in the financial and risk, legal, tax and accounting, intellectual property and science and media markets, powered by the world’s most trusted news organization. With headquarters in New York and major operations in London and Eagan, Minnesota, Thomson Reuters employs approximately 60,000 people and operates in over 100 countries. For more information, go to www.thomsonreuters.com.

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