In a study by ALM Legal Intelligence titled, Meeting Client Expectations: The Hidden Secret for Improved Satisfaction, ALM Legal Intelligence surveyed lawyers in corporate legal departments, with approximately 50% at companies with revenues over $1 billion, and roughly 80% of lawyers at mid to large size law firms, in an attempt to identify the core disconnects in the law firm/client collaboration process. The answer might not be what you think. It certainly doesn’t appear to be on the minds of law firms.

The study found that while 51 percent of corporate legal department has terminated a law firm due to sub-par document quality or delivery, only 3 percent of law firms have been fired by a client for this same reason. This contradictory finding seems to indicate that the ‘fired’ firms may not be aware that they were terminated, or they may not understand or have been told the real reason for the termination.

Either way, it’s clear that document quality and efficacy of delivery is extremely important to corporate legal departments and something that law firms must take a stronger interest in upholding. Below are 5 common themes related to Legal Document Management.

5 Common Themes Related to Legal Document Management

  1. High-Quality Documents, Delivered in a Timely Manner

Nearly half of corporate respondents noted “slow turnaround of documents and missed deadlines” as significantly damaging the firms relationship and reputation, with a high value placed on timely delivery.

  1. Re-Use of Prior Work Product

Close to 70 percent of law firms in the study reported reusing work product at least 50% of the time. While the practice is somewhat common and even necessary, the risks must be properly mitigated.

  1. Expectations for Document Validation

While nearly 80% of Corporate Counsel expect that document reviews are conducted by the lead lawyer on the matter, technology was also cited as a positive “safety net” for review and checking on a routine basis.  However, only 15% of law firms admitted to using technology for document review.  As one legal department responded, “Some law firms don’t keep up-to-date with technology, don’t know how to effectively use what they have or don’t explain options to clients.”  Missed opportunities abound.

  1. Client Involvement in the Drafting Process

Law firms that fail to involve clients early in the document drafting process are, according to the report, “causing frustration and dissatisfaction.” More than half of the legal departments view document review and exchange as fully collaborative, highlighting the importance of including their expertise on subject matters.

  1. Overabundance of Email and Redline Reports

Both sides agreed that there is far too much emailing when it comes to document changes.  Other common complaints include the inefficient use of redlines, PDFs, and “ill-defined processes for document exchange and review and the inconsistent application of the appropriate software.”

Writing is on the Wall for Legal Document Management

This study clearly points to the need for better document management systems between law firms and clients.  Secure, web-based document libraries can pave the way for easy and fruitful collaboration.  With a shared portal for document sharing, productivity is enhanced, redundancy and errors are reduced, and costs are reduced. Connectivity and transparency afforded by a legal document management platform can not only directly mitigate the issues mentioned in the survey, but can also foster the kind of true collaboration that cements a healthy, productive relationship between clients and law firms.

Contact us today to find out just how much our legal document management tools and comprehensive matter management system can lend to your client-firm relationships and overall productivity.