Client-service teams at law firms benefit the law departments of those clients (See my post of Sept. 17, 2006 with two examples.) and departments should encourage their key law firms to set them up (See my post of July 19, 2007 on the rate-setting role of practice groups.). Law firms that invest time of client-service teams to keep up to speed with the business operations of their key clients will fare better (See my posts of May 2, 2007; and Dec. 8, 2006 about core teams in law firms.). As I see it, a core team does legal work; a client-service team also deliberately builds its knowledge of the client.
At a higher level, many law firms have established industry practice groups I am not sure that law department managers pay much attention to practice groups, unless those groups produce useful and timely information or unless in a competitive situation, the extra experience a group can demonstrate makes a difference. A team focused on a specific client draws closer than a team focused on a broad industry.