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The heart of client darkness: how hard it is to map client use of the law department

Managers of legal departments lack a descriptive metric for the degree to which in-house lawyers are relied on by clients. For example, no general counsel can say anything like “30 percent of the VPs and above last year turned to the law department appropriately at least 75 percent of the time.”

In fact, if we break down that fanciful statement, we have to acknowledge that client satisfaction surveys do not attempt to peg market penetration, so to speak. For instance, of all the clients at a given level, what percentage of them sought guidance from the legal department at all during the past year? That set of numbers implies that the rank of a client makes a difference (See my post of May 31, 2005: client rank has its privileges in satisfaction surveys.).

If a survey captured that information, it is still just a starting point. How much did the clients at that level make use of the law department? And, if we had plausible metrics for amounts of use at a given level, how would we ascertain whether the use covered some, most, or all of the circumstances when legal advice would help?

Darkness is everywhere (See my post of March 18, 2007: pockets of non-users; Feb. 7, 2008: track client usage of documents on the legal intranet.). We would certainly be better able to talk about responsiveness and about risk management if we could shine some light in the form of metrics (See my post of April 27, 2005: reply to calls within 24 hours; and March 23, 2008: risk management with 18 references).

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