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Tools used by law departments to measure law firm performance

In mid-2005, Bottomline Technologies surveyed the Fortune 1000 companies and AM Best 200 insurers. Of the 1,892 individuals sent e-mail surveys, close to 200 responded. Bottomline’s Thomas Gaillard reported some of the results at ACC’s 2005 Annual Meeting.

Given five tools for measuring law firm performance, the respondents indicated the following percentages: “Financial analysis” (64%), “anecdotal (55%), “staff survey” (43%), “interviews” (34%) and “audit” (34%).

Let’s consider each of these. The most common choice could simply mean that the law departments keep track of their spending on each law firm. So what? The informality of chatting around the water cooler about different firms leaves huge amounts to be desired. I am very surprised at the indicated prevalence of surveys to measure law firm performance. No department I have consulted to has done such a survey. “Interviews” might mean that someone in a law department calls up others who have worked with a firm and asks them to appraise the firm; that’s only a tic better than anecdotal, and again I doubt the level of frequency indicated. Who knows what “audit” means. In short, an unsatisfactory set of metricoids (numeric factoids).

For more on evaluations of law firms (meta-post), see my posts in 2005 of April 14 on difficulties when law departments evaluate their law firms, May 28 on a spending matrix, July 16 on criticisms of law firms July 21, on data mining and evaluations, Aug. 5, on some questionable savings claims; Aug. 31 on the Royal Bank of Canada’s process, Sept. 10, on evaluations of firms by clients, Oct. 17 on rankings compared to ratings, and Nov. 1 on data that “18% formally evaluate firms”.)