On September 28, the Committee of Administration of Law Firms coordinated the organization of the Webinar called “Negotiating with In-house: new trends and purchase behaviors in legal counsels”. The same was in charge of José Luis Pérez Benítez, partner of the consultant firm Pérez + Partners of Spain and had 74 participants.
This Webinar was focused on deciphering the keys to the relationship between in-house lawyers and law firms.
Faced with a current legal market conditioned by a different labor scenario, dominated by price demands from customers, the need to reduce operating costs and therefore to establish new rules and different business strategies, it is necessary to know the process of purchase and decision of customers and what are the main requirements that take into account when choosing legal services.
Thus, José Luis Pérez Benitez reported that the current scenario shows a growth in internal consultancies and consequently a decrease in the volume of outsourced work, while the unbundling of tasks has increased.
A very important issue raised by the speaker was to determine the relevance of the strengths (relationship of contacts, expertise, prices, understanding objectives and trust) of the legal firms depending on the stage of the process of customer acquisition (identification, invitation, proposal, presentation, decision). For example, although the relationship of contacts is very important in the first stage, that is to say in the identification, it loses total relevance at the time of the decision, which is the last stage. On the other hand, the opposite happens with the understanding of the client’s objectives.
Therefore, the firm must know the contracting process of the company well, differentiating each phase in order to position itself and act in the development of the business based on them.
Likewise, it was reported that the work that is most outsourced today is related to those areas of high specialization, in which in-house lawyers feel the need to appeal to an external lawyer before the urgency and immediacy of a response , a “yes” or “no” with full guarantees, that they are aware that they can not grant themselves. Outsourcing is also recurrent in jurisdictions where the company has no presence or knowledge.
Therefore, if the firm has an area or areas of great specialization or is located in an unknown jurisdiction, it acquires a great advantage when it comes to attracting clients.
José Luis Pérez Benitez presented a very interesting picture in which he described the type of service and price that the client is looking for depending on the problem he has. For example, before a complex problem, the company seeks a prestigious firm, with expertise, regardless of the price. However, when faced with a simpler problem, which can be solved by a wide range of dispatches, the company looks for an office that is available immediately, at a low price and that is efficient.
The lecturer also stated that at the time of hiring, in-house lawyers’ opinions are influenced by the following factors, in order of importance: personal knowledge of the external lawyer, references given by other in-house, references of other lawyers not in-house and the information they obtain from international directories.
It is for this reason that it considers key the management of the personal relationship, always having the external lawyer try to generate a high level of trust with the in-house lawyer.
Regarding fidelity, he referred to the fact that the current trend implies that it is more towards the lawyer than towards the office. If the lawyer moves from a firm, surely the company will continue with him, depending, of course, on the personal relationship mentioned that has been generated between the in-house and the external lawyer.
However, if the office of the external lawyer does not have sufficient experience in certain matters of interest to the company, then in that case they will surely leave the lawyer and focus on the office.