Hubbard One, a provider of marketing and business development software and solutions for law firms, aimed to answer a key question for outside counsel in its new report, “Building Relationships with Global General Counsel: How Firms Can Use Targeted Content and Experience to Win and Retain Business.”
question flows from the recent economic downturn that impacted the way
general counsel and outside law firms do business together. Law firms
have beefed up their marketing and business development, especially on
the web, but have they been successful in catching the attention of the
The answer is mixed. “There is a gap between what the
general counsel want and what is being provided on the web by law
firms,” explains John Simpson, the senior director of interactive
marketing at Hubbard who worked on the report.
surveyed more than 40 in-house legal officers working at multinational
corporations headquartered in the United States, the United Kingdom, and
across Europe. The results show in-house lawyers are looking for more
customized methods of communication with their outside service
providers, including emails and web content. The burden is now on the
law firms to prove their capabilities.
The 2012 report builds on a 2009 study [PDF],
which showed how GCs use law firm websites to find outside counsel, but
focused primarily on how the firms were using the Internet and social
media to attract work from corporate clients.
Since the economic
turmoil of 2008 and beyond, tighter budgets have limited general
counsel’s ability to hire outside help, Simpson says. Hubbard’s
surveyors expected that pricing for services would be an important
factor for general counsel, but something else trumped price, Simpson
says: “We’ve heard from general counsel that expert knowledge of a
company’s sector is more important than pricing now.”
firms, this creates an extra burden to use online tools to showcase
their knowledge of specific business sectors. The most important
features of a law firm’s website are clear and usable navigation, and
relevant and valuable content, according to the report. The study found
attorney profiles are the single most important destination on law firm
Many of the companies interviewed were multinational
corporations that conduct business in many countries, Simpson says. GCs
noted that searching for counsel in the U.S. was easy, but in the
international sphere, it was much more difficult for GCs to find firms
that could practice where they need them to. “It was like searching for a
needle in a haystack,” Simpson says.
The key for law firms to
take from this report, Simpson explains, is the need for more targeted
communication. GCs don’t want to work to find the information they
need—they don’t want more communication, they need better communication.
See also: “Hiring International Outside Counsel? Better Do Your Homework,” CorpCounsel, June 2012.