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Client Expectations
2 minute read | 2 months ago

Six CLO Insights from the WPG 2024 Roundtable

Photo of Thames Schoenvogel By: Thames Schoenvogel

Last week, we hosted our annual WPG Law Firm Leaders Roundtable in Chicago. A highlight of the Roundtable was the client panel, when a group of CLOs and in-house counsel shared what they want outside counsel to know.

While one size fits one with client needs and expectations, many of their insights are valuable takeaways for all outside counsel:

  1. Clients want outside counsel to point out areas for process improvement or course correction. “We know [improvement] is a two-way street and we have pains at our office. But we do want that feedback so we can course correct. So many firms are afraid to tell us when someone isn’t doing it right, but to let us know when that is happening is helpful.”
  2. Clients are using AI to varying degrees—and are optimistic about its ability to create more efficiency in firms. I do think you guys need to be investing in whatever is coming. I had a massive RFP, and you could tell the firms that could employ some technology were able to quote lower because some of it wasn’t manual.”
  3. But clients also want firms to be transparent in how they are using AI. “We have an internal AI software that we use, and we use it a lot. But when I ask law firms how they are using AI to support us, they clam up. I don’t want my info being used by you to develop better AI tech that you profit off and bill me to do the work. Due diligence on leases makes sense. But when I give you my commercial contracts and you are using that to develop AI, that doesn’t sit right.”
  4. Clients highly value outside counsel who understand their own firm’s expertise and are honest about it. “Finding a way for your lawyers to really know your other lawyers and what they do well and be able to vouch for that would be so valuable. When I ask about other lawyers, so often the answer I get is vague. In every firm there are great and not great lawyers, and I want you to know their work.”
  5. Firms still aren’t doing enough succession planning. “I have yet to see a firm figure out succession planning. You don’t tell me who my new contact is. You should ask me my preference along with advance planning.”
  6. You can’t be a trusted advisor if you aren’t checking in with your clients. “I want to get to know [my outside counsel] and them to know me. I don’t mean taking me to be wined and dined but knowing my challenges and my company’s challenges. My closest outside counsel asks me the question: ‘What’s keeping you up at night?’”