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Consider Doing a Needs Assessment

I read about Cargill’s law department and its “needs assessment” program.  Its lawyers interviewed senior clients and compiled a report on what the clients thought were the most important contributions of the lawyers.  They ask several other questions aimed at looking to the future and meeting the needs of clients.  This was not a client satisfaction survey, where clients rate the law department on its performance on attributes, such as responsiveness and knowledge of the law.  The needs assessment only focused on what clients felt was important, value adding.

I like the idea of lawyers talking to their clients about the future, what the department needs to do to perform well in the future, and where to focus their efforts.  My book, Client Satisfaction for Law Departments (Corp. Legal Times 2003) discusses many aspects of this, but it did not include the Cargill initiative or perspective.