The in-house lawyer poll launches this week. If you work in-house, please do spill the beans in the survey below. 

In last year's poll, in-house lawyers were asked what the most important factor was when instructing a firm, with the majority choosing quality of advice. One firm was lambasted for “inaccurately regurgitating a statute” and “trying to pass it off as advice to an acknowledged expert in the field”. A GC said that it was vital that law firms were open about their level of expertise as "lawyers trying to hide a lack of knowledge can cost us a great deal of money" if a mistake "comes to light" at a later stage. 

Respondents deemed commercial awareness to be the second most important factor when instructing a firm. One client said that the “advice needs to help me - whether saving time so that I can forward on to the business (and not have to translate into normal words), or to give a recommendation based on experience.” He added that getting “five different options that I already know is no use at all”. 

Pricing was identified as the third most important factor when deciding which firm to instruct. A large number of clients felt they were being overcharged and not getting good value for money. A partner at a firm was slammed by a client for trying "to give the impression" a "stream of work had been approved", when that wasn't the case. Another client berated a firm for “moving the goal on fees”. 

Other respondents felt that the relationship was the key factor when instructing a firm, and stressed the importance of getting on with external lawyers. Although some firms were chastised for their forced attempts to build rapport. One client was unimpressed by a firm that arranged “awkward one-on-one lunches”. Whilst another complained "all the lawyers who took us out for dinner lacked table manners and didn't seem able to eat properly. It was embarrassing". 

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Some respondents rated customer service as the most important attribute for their external lawyers. A number of lawyers were criticised for going quiet on a matter. One client berated a firm for “poor communication - not responding to emails in a timely manner and having be chased to get work completed.” Other firms were criticised for contacting the client too regularly. An in-house lawyer mentioned an associate “constantly calling for ‘catch-ups’ on an on-going matter”.  The catch-ups “are unnecessary, particularly where I've already gone back on email to explain where we are on the project. And to make it worse, I get billed for the call”. 

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