General counsel struggling to stay current due to law firms’ insufficient support

Most general counsel (GCs) spend at least five hours a week keeping up-to-date with legal developments but law firms are not delivering the content they need, according to new research.

All of the 100 GCs polled felt that law firms had a responsibility to keep their clients and prospects informed about news and developments, with 40% describing it as a “significant” element of supplier responsibility.

This could affect their decision-making when it came to choosing who to instruct.

The survey of UK and US GCs, commissioned by content management software provider Passle, found that almost 90% spent at least five hours a week trying to keep abreast of legal developments, mostly in their spare time – weekends, evenings and lunchtimes were the main periods they did this.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) spent between nine and 16 hours a week.

Almost half of GCs said they would not work with law firms that did not demonstrate their subject-matter expertise, but just 8% thought legal services providers worked hard enough to provide timely, relevant website content – more than half went on to their supplier firms’ websites at least weekly.

Over half (56%) of GCs would be more likely to ask for a lawyer by name if they had previously read articles written by them.

Content distributed in a single format only would be missed by the vast majority of clients and prospects, researchers said, as GCs consumed a wide range of media, with podcasts the most popular (cited by 14%), followed by webinars, newsletters and research/white papers.

Connor Kinnear, chief marketing officer at Passle, said: “A proper content strategy is fast becoming a must-have if firms want to keep clients and attract new business. That’s backed up by our research findings, with 61% of GCs preferring to work with law firms that proactively update them with legal developments and 48% actively saying they wouldn’t work with those that couldn’t.”

Abhijit Mukhopadhyay, president (legal) and GC at the London-based international conglomerate Hinduja Group, said: “I tend to pick up the phone to talk to the firms directly, but it would be helpful if they were able to proactively share updates that were timely and relevant to me, and that would certainly be something that would make them stand out.”

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