"Not instructing you again. Or you. Or you"
The RollOnFriday In-House Lawyer Survey 2023 has launched, so if you're in-house, don't delay, have your say.
It gives in-house lawyers the opportunity to spill the beans on the best and worst firms they instructed in the last year, the perks from panel firms they enjoyed or endured, and what they value most in a firm.
In last year's poll, for the seventh year running, in-house lawyers said the most important quality was not a good rapport, or fat bribes, but simply the quality of what they were told.
“I can put up with increased expense, a prickly relationship and even a reasonable delay (provided it’s communicated to me)," said a respondent, "but I won’t go back if the advice isn’t good enough”.
Pricing, however, came bottom of the pile for the fourth year. “If it’s cheap and I can’t use it, what’s the point?" said one client.
Last year's survey also highlighted that clients have had enough of being handed burnt out lawyers who “are no good to us”. One respondent pointed out that lawyers they’d instructed had been overworked “to the extent that they made some errors in the document that even my trainees would’ve easily picked up on”.
It is hard to justify massive hourly rates “when it is supporting crazy sounding salaries for inexperienced lawyers," said a client. "Hire a few more junior lawyers. Let them sleep some more. Pay them a little less,” they advised.
Some in-house lawyers wanted firms to stop sending endless circulars of tangential relevance and “pick up the phone for a quick word instead”. One respondent had a particular bugbear: “Stop changing your LinkedIn logo every time there’s another woke celebration”.
If you're in-house and agree, or disagree, chime in by taking the poll. If you want to stop being taken to the rugby, or the opera, or Wetherspoons, don't forget to describe the perks you loved and loathed as well.
Let top firms and companies ping your app when they like you for a role. Whether or not you're actively looking to move, keep one ear open by downloading LawyerUp on the App Store or Google Play.
As a full-service firm, Womble Bond Dickinson is a wonderful strategic partner. We stand at the forefront of the legal market, having earned a reputation for transforming companies from all sectors, of all sizes, from all over the globe.
You can change external counsel for a consultant from an accountancy firm. The quality of advice matters, not whether your corporate logo is a rainbow this week.
Clients should instruct the firms that offer the lower pay for lower hours if that is what they want instead of going for the glitzy highly profitable firms whose very business model is based on high hours and high pay. They get exactly what they chose…
I use a panel. Rates tend to be around 500. One has 700. They asked for a 15% increase recently to reflect increased costs. Shan't be instructing them again.
Depends on your sector and what kind of advice you need.
Any regional firm punching their weight can provide decent accurate transactional, commercial, employment, litigation etc advice. If you over-instruct on routine matters you will pay over the odds for overpaid sleep deprived lawyers providing said advice.
If what you need however, is super specialised advice, then that limits your choice to overpaid sleep deprived juniors at City or Niche firms supported by rarely available, sleep deprived, stressed out maybe burned out senior lawyers... These firms won't pay less to those juniors - it's about bragging rights. "Our trainees once stopped WWIII on their lunch break." "We pay our trainees £100,000 a year with a bonus to match"... brag brag blah blah... "we do OWN them though".
In July I’ll be starting as GC at a business that my previous firm is a panel firm. Said firm treated me appallingly when I was a junior partner and ultimately forced me out when I wouldn’t acquiesce to the fickle whims of the deranged MPs. I know, having been on the inside at this firm, where the deficiencies are and how they run matters by the skin of their teeth and rely on blind faith.
I’m so looking forward to culling the panel arrangement and kicking these shysters out.
Reap what you so. Let’s see how they feel when the seven figure billings goes to their competitor.
I just instruct solicitors that won't laugh at the mess I'm in.
But if you can't spell "sow" they may not care.
The Revenger 28 April 23 19:28
I totally get where you are coming from.
the team leader at my previous firm was a passive-aggressive bully generally but especially when anyone left - particularly associates. I joined another firm about two years ago and I’ll be joining the in-house team of one of my ex-team leader’s clients in June; I’ll be letting the client team know exactly what the real position is with the team and making it clear that the endless LinkedIn marketing puffery by said team leader is just that; puffery.
clients deserve to know what goes on within their chosen law firms.
Ex MC, have been in-house for a while. My thoughts:
- We stick with the people we like rather than the firm. If our people left, we would go to their new firm.
- We will pay for quality. Our drift towards instructing US firms, even for English work, has been noticeable as the gap in quality has grown, not just at the top level but increasingly at mid-senior level.
- Don't make your team stay up until 4am ruining marriages etc. We generally don't mind if stuff is going to be a little late as long as you tell us. We will tell you if something is really urgent, aside from which we don't like paying USD 600/hr for someone who hasn't slept in days.
- Junior in-house lawyers don't have much control over an existing relationship, but they can definitely influence new instructions.
- If you have cocked something up, tell us. The reaction will generally be mild annoyance rather than total fury.
- Master the art of educating without condescending. And be nice - it translates into more chances to get something right.
- We will quibble over bills to the point of exasperation. We quibble a lot less when time is well recorded and when we can see there are not 6 people on a call.
- Check your juniors' work. We have no problem with a 3-5PQE have a crack at something, but if the work product is messy, it gets noted internally.
- If you want an 'in' with us, come and do a presentation for our team. In-house teams don't have the budget for this, so we like and want free training. It's amazing how little firms bother to do this Put some effort in though, we had a City firm send two partners recently effectively rehash of someone's GDL homework, the quality was truly abysmal. Conversely, we just instructed a US firm with a small 'taster' matter off the back of a superb piece of training.
I instruct solicitors then hack their phones. Teehee
“- We will pay for quality. Our drift towards instructing US firms, even for English work, has been noticeable as the gap in quality has grown, not just at the top level but increasingly at mid-senior level.
- Don't make your team stay up until 4am ruining marriages etc. We generally don't mind if stuff is going to be a little late as long as you tell us. We will tell you if something is really urgent, aside from which we don't like paying USD 600/hr for someone who hasn't slept in days.”
these 2 demands conflict mate. you cannot instruct US firms and expect them to allow their juniors decent sleep
In-house at a property developer with a team of 3 in legal.
100% it's about the individuals not the firm. Two of our favourite reliable and affable lawyers (from different firms in different practice areas) joined Keystone at about the same time, so it was a no-brainer, and I've since got to know some other people there who come from other City firms who had been also good and very easy to deal with.
Not universally true of "Chambers model" and listed firms though. Instructed an chap from Gunner Cooke who failed to respond to correspondence then left under a cloud...and yes, we used Ince, but it's too big a risk now, so whilst they still have some run-off work, they're not getting new instructions.
If you instruct Wombles, you end up getting the things that everyday folks leave behind.
Junior in-house lawyers don't have much control over an existing relationship, but they can definitely influence new instructions.
This is so true - so many times I have seen externals talk down to our juniors/only talk to our GC/HoL. One day those juniors will be the ones instructing, seems very short-sighted
@ contradiction interns
No conflict at all.
We aren't instructing US firms because they are running teams ragged and turning work more quickly (though I'm sure they do so), but because there is now a perception that their senior lawyers are simply better and provide better strategic direction.. That strategy ultimately makes or breaks an instruction for us.
This perception has more recently spread to the mid level lawyers (4-6pqe), i.e. that the US ones do provide marginally better work product appropriate to their experience. Below 4 pqe I don't think we really notice much difference and it doesn't really matter.
you missed my point mate
the point was that you claimed not to want lawyers who are made to stay up until 4am ruining marriages etc. but then you sing the praises of american firms.
if you’re appointing american firms, regardless of the merit of that decision in isolation, you’re supporting that working style. you’re contributing to the ruination of marriages etc.
if that works for you because you see a better quality of advice, that’s fine, but don’t then pretend you also value their lawyers’ wellbeing, because you’re contributing to the damage. so it doesn’t compute.
and there’s no point you asking them not to, because their model doesn’t work like that. no matter what you do - if you ask their lawyers not to stay up late doing your work, they will just stay up late doing someone else’s with yours being done the next day. so you’re getting sleep-deprived soon-to-be-divorced types come what may.
and there’s no judgement from me, by the way: that’s what they sign up for, they don’t pretend and they leave if they’ve had enough. and if you like the quality of advice then go for it. i’m just saying you’re only kidding yourself by pretending the well-being comment moves the dial for you.