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Survey your law firms, but observe some courtesies

A recent post mentions a survey by Coca-Cola of its law firms on their diversity practices (See my post of Dec. 7, 2009: diversity survey; and April 4, 2006: GE collects diversity metrics from its law firms.). Another post describes a survey by a law department of its firms’ views on e-billing software while a third refers to a survey of a department’s firms on technology tools (See my post of March 26, 2005: help with technology decisions and support.).

Law departments could unleash all kinds of other well-meaning surveys on their legal service providers, such as questionnaires about pro bono, energy conservation, secondments, ethics, flex-time, and in fact any management initiative (See my post of Aug. 20, 2009: statements by general counsel in support of good actions; and Aug. 21, 2009: pro bono statement.).

Distributed judiciously, surveys can benefit law departments without unduly burdening law firms. Overdone, they impose on firms. What I urge general counsel to do, if they issue a survey, is to share the results and to explain how they believe they will act on the data. Second, be sure to fill in your share of surveys of law departments.