Law firms, through surveys, as eventual providers of management metrics

I glimpsed the future when I read a piece by Jill Schachner Chanen, ABA J., Vol. 92, April 2006 at 22. The article discusses surveys by law firms, and singled out Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham’s surveys of law departments (See my posts of March 6, 2005, and Aug. 5, 2005 on the firm’s 2002 survey and two posts on Jan. 30, 2006 on the most recent survey). I foresee that huge law firms will increasingly invest in research surveys and reports of their key market – law departments (See my post of April 9, 2005 on Shearman & Sterling’s survey; Oct. 23, 2005 on Dickstein Shapiro’s; and Aug. 27, 2005 on Fulbright & Jaworski’s.).

With complementary goals at each firm – to market their services, to show they are smart and thoughtful, to guide their own practices, and to gain penetrate law departments – law firms will set up research centers and will increasingly rely on data gathered from the marketplace, from law departments.

Many entities already solicit data from law departments (See my post of Oct. 17, 2005 and Nov. 21, 2005 for “focusing illusion”.), and law firms will compete to innovate content, methodology, analysis and reach.

Nor will law firms act alone, because it seems inevitable to me that vendors of matter management systems and e-billing systems will follow the lead of Serengeti (See my posts of April 5, 2005, Aug. 5, 2005, and Nov. 6 and 8, 2005 on its various surveys) once they gain permission to liberate their client’s data from their systems. In this research, ASP companies will have a decided advantage, after they persuade their clients to swap some data – guarded for confidentiality – for insights.

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