When asked in a survey, reported in Inside Counsel, July 2007 at 61, which of nine choices are the most important factors in their selecting outside counsel, the 862 responding in-house counsel put “quality of work” and “responsiveness” as the top two, equally ranked, factors. What caught my eye was the third factor listed, “creative solutions.”
Other surveys have ranked creativity in outside counsel much lower (See my post of May 28, 2007 on law firm creativity and eight references cited.)
Obviously, a firm that a law department has worked with before can have demonstrated creativity. The hard case is the challenge to a firm to demonstrate creativity in advance. Creativity, some might say, shows up during a transaction or lawsuit, but may not have much of an opportunity at the proposal stage.
I disagree. Case studies, articles, and awards can show a law firm’s innovative approaches (See my post of June 18, 2007 on Eversheds publicity regarding innovation.). The firm’s proposal can show new slants and sensibilities. Scenarios laid out for staffing, technology, and fee alternatives can be imaginative. The face-to-face meeting thereafter affords ample opportunities to take the path less trodden.
So, setting aside for the moment the unusually high ranking of creativity in this survey, law firms can demonstrate ample creativity even when competing for work from new prospects.