A piece in the Sloan Mgt. Rev., Fall 2006 at 21, set off some thoughts about client satisfaction and alignment. Flexible companies, the authors state, “maximize the ‘surface area’ of the organization by connecting as many employees as possible with the external environment.” Translated to law departments, I take the point to be that the more internal clients who have dealings with someone in the law department, the better the law department responds to the needs of its company.
Client satisfaction scores, I have posited, can be weighted to give more importance to respondents in the higher ranks of the company (See my post of May 31, 2005.). That is one way to adjust client opinions about the law department.
If the surface area perspective spreads, another weighting might be to track how many people in a given year come to the law department for help and counsel. Those client groups with more people who use the law department would count for more in satisfaction ratings.
No department I know tracks this metric, but I like the notion that widespread connections – a large surface area for the law department – assures that clients are finding the department valuable. It keeps the department in touch with business realities, rather than lost in the fog of purely legal developments.