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Outside counsel’s most critical attributes

Some results of research undertaken for LexisNexis Martindale-Hubble during August 2006 appears in InsideCounsel, Oct. 2006 at 96. The research, which gathered responses by an undisclosed number of in-house counsel, shows how that group evaluated eight attributes of outside counsel. Since 90 percent of the respondents chose “Lawyer responsiveness” while at the other end only 74 percent chose “Lawyer’s predictive accuracy in a legal matter’s outcome,” the lawyers must have been asked to check all the attributes they thought were critical. That method is less revealing than ranking, allocating points, or even choosing the three most critical (See my post of Oct. 17, 2005 for more discussion on question style.)

In between the highest rated and lowest rated attribute were “business knowledge” (85%), “proactive advice the lawyer offered” (83%), “quality of service” (82%), “innovative solutions” (82%), “mitigate a client’s risk” (81%) and “listening skills” (79%).

“Quality of service” encompasses all the other attributes, so the attributes are not mutually exclusive (See my post of Dec. 20, 2005 on techniques for choice lists.). Also, the list had choices for neither cost effectiveness nor knowledge of the law. Listening skills are important (See my post of April 15, 2006 on its importance.) but hardly the only non-substantive legal attribute, while “predictive accuracy” hardly applies in transactions. All in all, a strange survey.