by James S. Wilber, Esq., Altman Weil, Inc.
Most law departments periodically use written or online surveys to gauge the satisfaction of clients with the services they (and outside counsel) provide. A question that often arises is whether (and if so, how) to protect the confidentiality of the responses that come from the executives and other key users of legal services served by the law department?
The responses of clients to survey questions, and most especially the narrative comments that they provide, are of immense value to the general counsel and the law department in determining how to improve services and ensure the complete satisfaction of their clients. Although the tabulated results of the survey and the narrative comments are very helpful for these purposes even when the client responses are confidential and the law department cannot tell from whence they came, many general counsel prefer being able to follow up directly with individual clients to discuss their ideas and concerns. That of course isn’t possible if the names of the respondents are confidential. The competing factor is getting clients to be candid, something that is much more likely if the survey is confidential.