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Law Firms Can't Measure Client Satisfaction If They Don't Track Retention Rates

Back in September, Mark Beese of Leadership for Lawyers blogged about the disconnect between lawyers' perceptions of the quality of service provided to clients versus the clients' actual belief.  As Beese wrote, most lawyers believed that their corporate clients were satisfied with their service, when in fact, a full 70 percent had complaints.

Now, a recent study by LexisNexis, The Large Law Firm Client Retention Study, offers a possible reason for that disconnect between lawyers' perception and clients' reality. According to the study, it turns out that 61 percent of large law firms don't even know what their client retention rate is. The study also suggested that lawyers don't prioritize client retention in large part because lawyers are not compensated for successful client retention:

The study also probed for explanations as to why so many large law firms struggle with implementing pro-active and strategic client retention initiatives. The leading systematic reason identified by study participants was the lack of participation from attorneys and support staff (67%). This non-compliance could be due in part to a misalignment between compensation practices and firms’ client retention initiatives. More than half of firms surveyed (51%) do not compensate their attorneys for client retention and, of the firms that do provide some financial reward system, only 14% compensate based on the firm performance level.

What's most troubling to me about the survey is the finding that lawyers don't feel the need to satisfy clients and retain them unless they're financially rewarded for their efforts. What about our ethical responsibilities to represent clients with competence and respect? What about our fiduciary relationship to our clients? Isn't great client service part of our professional  obligation -- or is  it an  "extra" that we confer only when there's financial motivation to do so?   

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on November 29, 2006 at 01:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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