What In-House Lawyers want

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In the ever-growing client focused legal industry, it’s important for lawyers to provide their clients with what they want. Which is to provide them with a competitive alternative to the huge list of available legal services available. Although, law firms are now paying more attention to giving clients a more transparent service. For example, having set budgets and fixed fees, firms are often forgetting about what in-house lawyers really want. Without better accommodating, firms will find themselves loosing clients, earning themselves a bad reputation.

Throughout this article, we discuss what we feel are the top 3 ‘wants’ of in-house lawyers. This is experience based and notes the difference our solutions have made by providing such ‘wants’ to their clients.


To start with, law firms should ask in-house lawyers how they want to communicate. Whether this be via phone, via email, through interactive portals or in person. Efficient communication is vital and knowing which method is preferred is advantageous. According to David Lat, in-house lawyers have more cases, meetings and emails compared to the average lawyer. Their time is precious. To prevent wasted time, you need to ensure communication is clear, succinct and effective.

Being an effective communicator involves communicating issues as they arise and potential ones in the future. Flagging issues quickly, provides the in-house lawyer with time to deliberate and decide on a plan. In-house lawyers are often inundated with a range of legal issues for their own firms, all with their own restrictive budgets. As a result, they value communication that gets straight to the point and avoids unnecessary information.

Poor Communication

Another example of poor communication is relying on email. Emails are often lost in long confusing threads or forgotten about among others. This leads to miscommunications, frustration over long or no replies and has the risk of exposing confidential files. Email
lacks the same security as client portals. Portals are effective for communication as they allow users to discuss documents and track changes when made. When everything is on one easy-to-manage platform, it becomes effortless to make progress on projects.

Don’t forget, another vital part of being an effective communicator is keeping the client in the know. This is key when building a trusting relationship. The easiest way to implement this would be by using a collaborative portal. Such portals can use granular rights, meaning everyone involved can be part of the same portal. Some will have limited access to certain files to keep them confidential. Portals also allow you to work together with your client on documents, editing them together whenever and wherever.

Be Efficient

If not already obvious, efficiency is exceedingly important for the in-house lawyer. They tend to be swamped with cases for their company, which is one of the various reasons efficient outside counsel is sought after. To ensure you adhere to these needs, make sure you keep them updated at all times by telling them the progress of their matters, even if they didn’t ask. They also don’t want to be chasing law firms to find out the status of such matters, especially when their CEO wants to know the progress, so to prevent any animosity. Keep them well informed.

Be efficient with your project management and calendar updates. The last thing you want to do is have your client forget, miss or have an event, deposition, deadline etc. sneak up on them. Remember, in-house lawyers won’t have the same fancy calendar systems that firms use, more commonly using Outlook to track dates. Use a project management tool or calendar system with updates to make sure they are reminded and are well aware of upcoming events, deadlines and meetings.

10 things you need to know as in-house counsel

Sterling Miller, who himself is an in-house lawyer, explains in his article ‘10 things you need to know as in-house counsel’, that outside counsel needs to provide sufficient time to review documents, otherwise clients can be left feeling rushed and flustered. If you need them to review a document or sign something off, make sure they have enough time and ask in advance. If left feeling under prepared, it is unlikely they will consider using you in the future.

The solution is to keep everything in one centralised portal. You can provide your client with real-time updates on their matter, keep them informed and give them the ability to access documents
whenever and wherever they want. Such portals tend to have project management module,
showing the progress for projects, making it trackable and again keeping your clients in the know. Not to forget built in calendar systems, meaning you can even remind yourself to guarantee they are updated for upcoming events etc. Another great benefit, is that by using one centralised working space, you can eliminate disparate or redundant messages from multiple threads of email.

Understand the Business

Finally, the last standout ‘want’ is for lawyers to understand the client’s business. This was likewise found at the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) 2019 Annual Conference and Expo. Ari Kaplan Advisors conducted a survey to expose the top ‘wants’ for in-house lawyers. In
their survey, it was clear more needs to be done to understand in-house lawyers needs and more effort put in to achieve such needs.

Therefore, to increase the likelihood that you retain your client’s business in the future, it is essential you understand the client’s business. Learn what you can about their structure, the culture and how the business works, as well as developing an understanding for the industry. Research who their competitors are and find out what legal and business challenges they are facing. This will expand your knowledge, making it easier to identify their business’s specific needs, whilst impressing them. They want perspective, not just a list of options that they don’t quite understand. Miller (2016), and Lat (2018), both resonate this point throughout their articles. Your clients have sought you for advice, so advise.

Client portals can be particularly helpful to prove you know a client’s business. By creating a personalised portal, clients will be impressed all information in their dashboard is relevant. Branding is key, adding logos or theme colours shows you have provided a portal that suits their needs. Once their bespoke portal has been created, all relevant documentation can be uploaded, communication and collaboration can begin and you’re already on your way to securing a client for life.

The Solution

Our extranet and collaboration portal, Hubshare, is perfect to suit your firms needs and to ensure you provide in-house lawyers with their ‘wants’. With Hubshare you can stay in touch with your clients from anywhere, whenever you want, allowing for fluid communication. It also ensures your business’s productivity is maximised with a dynamic portal, empowering your lawyers to collaborate with clients and build those all-important relationships. Show you know the client’s business by using our personalisable hubs that allow you to add logos, change colours and add widgets suited to the client’s needs. Additionally, showcase efficiency having everything in one manageable place and use our real-time updates to make sure you’re never working on an old document again.

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