We’ve previously written about the ACC Value Index, a tool developed by the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) that is designed to “help ACC members share meaningful information about the value they get from their outside counsel.” We noted in our initial post that these client reviews of law firms were available only to ACC members, although we later shared with you some highlights (the highest- and lowest-scoring firms).
The reviews of law firms are generated by in-house lawyers and primarily intended for use by other in-house lawyers. This week, however, law firms were given the opportunity to learn what their corporate clients had to say about them in the ACC Value Index.
From the letter sent by Susan Hackett, ACC’s senior vice president and general counsel, to law firm leaders:
I would like to inform you of the opportunity to gain access to the client satisfaction information about your firm that the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) has received from our members through the ACC Value Index (AVI). The Index is part of the larger ACC Value Challenge initiative that seeks to reconnect the cost of legal services to the value provided….
Reviewers also answer the critical question that sums up the value: would you use this firm again? Additionally, many provide comments. ACC members can search the AVI to view evaluation results based on firm name, office location, matter type and/or minimum scores; and they can contact a reviewer for more information.
In keeping with the constructive nature of the ACC Value Challenge, we are offering law firms the opportunity to view their results.
This seems like an excellent opportunity for firms to find out what in-house lawyers really think of their work — and what those in-house lawyers are telling other in-house lawyers when asked for referrals or recommendations. It’s a way for firms to get candid feedback from their clients (which clients sometimes might be reluctant to share face-to-face, at least if negative).
Some law firm lawyers have raised concerns about the reviews, worrying that they might be tainted by former associates with axes to grind, for example. But Hackett believes that outside counsel have nothing to worry about, as she explained to us via email:
What’s crucial here is that as much as some firms are nervous about how they’ll “show” and that they have no control over what’s posted, they’ll find that folks in my membership are going to the system to share recommendations of the firms they use and like, not to trash or flame firms they don’t.
This is really all about two things: providing members with a service that allows them a better way to do what they’ve always done (share reviews, but now it’s more accessible and robust) and providing the impetus for folks to focus on client satisfaction as the indicator of a firms’ value and not just their reputation or profitability, or whatever.
Some outside counsel have expressed the fear that the reviews will oversimplify matters. But Hackett offers this observation:
[T]his is all about the network: folks can connect to talk further about anything listed by another member on the ACC Value Index. No one makes a decision off of a website “recommendation”; but connect them to the posters of the comments for more detailed and personal insight into another client’s experience, and you’ve got a meaningful network for referrals.
The ACC Value index sounds like a helpful tool and an excellent resource — not just for corporate clients looking for outside counsel, but also for law firms interested in improving themselves and the service they deliver to clients. And it’s a tool that will only grow stronger over time, as more reviews and data points are gathered. We’ll be keeping an eye on it in the weeks and months ahead.
Earlier: Association for Corporate Counsel Says Its Rankings Aren’t Ripe Yet
The Association of Corporate Counsel Rankings
Law Firm Rankings By Clients, But We Can’t See Them