The truth is law is just not a client service driven business. And it looks like the pandemic has done little to change that.
Wolters Kluwer’s 3rd annual Future Ready Lawyer Survey came out this week. The Survey seeks to demonstrate how (or maybe how little) the legal profession is evolving. How ready (or how little) the profession is prepared for the future.
 
Lots of data and statistics that  pundits like Bob Ambrogi and Richard Tromans have studied and analyzed and provided their views of what the data all means.  What it shows, particularly in the legal tech and innovation space. Lots of good points here as always.
But one set of non-tech statistics from the Survey caught my eye.(Just like it did with last year’s Study btw). And it has to do with client satisfaction. Here’s what Wolters learned about the attributes clients most value in their outside lawyers—-and how well those lawyers meet their clients’ expectations:
 
  • Trust in firms to meet needs: 80% of clients says it’s important, but only 30% say their lawyers do this very well.
  • Specialization: 79% say important, only 31% say their outside lawyers do this very well
  • Use of technology: 78% say essential, only 30% say their outside lawyers do this very well.
  • Demonstrates efficiency and proficiency: 78% say important, 29% (29%!) say their lawyers do this very well. (The leading reason to fire a law firm is the failure to meet this expectation, says the Survey).
  • Equip staff with right tools to do clients’ work: 78% say important, 28% say their current firms do it well.
 
Is there any other service industry with such an amazing mismatch between client wants and expectations and provider performance? Is there any other service industry that would put up with this?
 
What the heck is going on?
 
A couple of more statistics. 30% of legal departments say they are very satisfied with their law firms. 24% say they will likely (and I emphasize likely) fire their law firm in the coming year.
 
As to the former stat, given the failure of law firms to meet client expectations, you have to wonder if lots of clients don’t feel their firms’ meet their expectations but remain “satisfied” with them anyway. Or at least not dissatisfied with them to fire them. That bad service is such a norm that it’s ok (Sort of like the taxicab industry pre-Uber).
You have to wonder if lots of clients don’t feel their firms’ meet their expectations but remain satisfied with them anyway. That bad service is such a norm that it’s ok
 
As to the latter stat, what’s odd to me is that the statistics reflecting a mismatch in expectation and performance are pretty consistent with last year’s. (Here’s my post on last year’s Survey). So clients seem to accept the poor service.
And yes, some firms are thinking this year about making a change. We don’t know how many clients thought about making a change last year. But the fact that the mismatch remains roughly the same would suggest that the changes, if made, didn’t yield any better client satisfaction. Again suggesting bad service is such a norm that its not only tolerated, but that there is no viable alternative in clients’ eyes.
If firms and clients aren’t pursuing and demanding better service, there’s little need to embrace tech, innovation, or for that matter, any change
 
And the failure to meet client expectations and it’s acceptance is, in fact, the real reason we don’t see more change in the legal profession. The only reason to embrace technology and adopt any innovation is to improve service and performance. So if firms and clients aren’t pursuing and demanding better service, there’s little need to embrace tech, innovation, or for that matter, any change. The status quo is good enough.
 
The truth is law is just not a client service driven business. Not now. Not ever. And the pandemic has done little to change that.