Page 8 - ILO Client Choice Guide 2012

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7
ILO Client Choice Guide 2012
if they can get good at value-based billing, then
that would be a marketing tool in itself. So they
shouldn’t need my files
per se
– they just need a
commitment in their own systems to get a better
understanding of their processes and how they
generate both revenue and overheads to come
up with value-based billing that is appropriate
for various matters.”
“The climate over the
last few years has made
companies realise that
law firm costs aren’t
immune from budgeting
cycles”
So a willingness to explore creative billing
practices falls squarely within the client service
remit. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, this is something
that Norton Rose’s Coleman readily accepts:
“We work very closely with our clients both
individually and as members of organisations
such as the Association of Corporate Counsel
(ACC), and we share views on things such as
value billing. We have to be prepared to accept
some changes in the way we do business,
whether it’s alternative fee arrangements, project
management or business development. We are
very much working with our clients on the tools
to do these things, so that they see we are
putting our money where our mouth is, and
hopefully at the end everyone will gain from it.
“All members of the Norton Rose Group
come from a ‘one-firm’ culture of service to their
clients, as opposed to just being a collection of
individual lawyers and experts. We really work
as a team – not only because we think that we
can deliver better value and service to the client,
but we also think it’s a more enjoyable way to
practise law.”
Team playing
While a close-knit firm may indeed be best
placed to offer higher levels of client care, one
further element is vital to an all-round service
offering: the ability to build relationships with
other law firms that are acting for a client.
“I would expect those firms in the top tier
to be able to work cooperatively with others,”
says Dick Thurston, senior vice president and
general counsel at Taiwan Semiconductor in
Taiwan. “If we have a bet-the-company case or
a major contract negotiation, often I don’t use
just one firm and will instead pull together a
team from two or three firms. So sometimes a
particular lawyer may be the team leader; other
times they will be part of a team led by someone
at another firm. If there are individual lawyers
who aren’t happy to do that, we will ask for them
to be removed – so individual lawyers don’t have
a security blanket just because their firm is a
key provider.”
The good news is that while some firms may
have been slow on the uptake when it comes to
joining the client care revolution, after 30 years
in the legal profession, Thurston believes that
things are finally moving in the right direction
and that considerable headway has been made
in the last decade in particular.
“I have seen significant improvement,” he
says. “There is much more of an attitude that
puts the customer first, rather than just dictating
terms. Things have really improved, and I think
that organisations like the ACC and ILO have
played a major role in helping to bring that about
by providing a platform to talk about this. If that
keeps up, then I think we will continue to see
progress being made.”