Law departments readily agree to talk with someone from one of their law firms about the firm’s performance. Some law departments are asked by their law firms to speak with a consultant about the firm’s performance. What are the differences to a department between talking to the party of the first part and the third party?
With the partner, you don’t have to explain the background; with a consultant, there may be zero familiarity with acronyms, executives, business activities and history, or legal issues.
With the partner you may be reluctant to be too personal or too blunt; with a consultant who aggregates and conceals the specifics (sometimes), you can be direct.
With the partner, the message gets to the firm directly; speaking to a consultant you can never be sure how the message gets translated.
With a partner doing the interview, you can be certain there are some amounts of intra-firm politics that will distort the message that gets delivered; with a consultant’s objectivity the unvarnished findings will more likely be delivered.
With the partner, you probably can’t learn much about other law departments and their relations with their firms; a consultant could tell you differences he or she sees in your arrangement.
With the partner, they probably have little experience with such interviews or how to pull together themes; with consultants they have done it before and know what to listen for and how to summarize the points.