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Whether trust in outside counsel outranks all other criteria

Eversheds report, “Law firm of the 21st century” at 8, has a curious finding. “The majority of clients (58%) emphasised that trust would continue to be of absolute importance in the client-lawyer relationship, more so than in other professional advisory relationships.”

What does this “trust” consist of? The term as used has a whiff of parent-child, of less-skilled, less-experienced in-house lawyers looking up to the great and good omniscience of the Law Firm Partner who will shepherd them through the Vale of Legal Death. “Trust” smacks of blind faith, of a one-way reliance by in-housers on what the wise elder guides them to do.

The more fundamental notion should be one of mutual respect and reliance: “This partner and law firm have the competence to help us skillfully and cost-effectively achieve our purposes. In turn the firm relies on us to know and apply the business of our client and to make the right strategic decisions.”