Junior lawyers: No time to socialise
In-house lawyers want firms to stop beasting their lawyers, according to results so far in the RollOnFriday In-house Lawyer Survey.
"Burnt-out lawyers are no good to us," said an in-house banking lawyer. "Equip your teams with enough lawyers on a deal so that you can rotate them and keep them fresh to provide good advice."
"Please tell your junior lawyers to stop sending non-urgent emails at 2 in the morning," said a senior in-house lawyer in telecoms. "It doesn't impress anyone and just looks weird, frankly."
"I'm not paying top dollar for some tired lawyer who can't focus because they've been worked like cart-horse," agreed another respondent.
"It's not good when half your team turn up to an important meeting appearing like zombies because they've been burning the midnight oil," said one client. "Don't sweat the assets i.e. your staff!" advised another, "In the long run it will be counter-productive for them, you and us."
An in-house lawyer in energy requested "more senior engagement." They added: "I do not like going after overworked juniors for mistakes, particularly when many of those mistakes are because the senior has not bothered to review or give them the right facts. Seniors should be focusing on fewer matters to give better advice."
"Bring in some consistency in staffing. It is frustrating moving between associates when instructing on new matters," said a Head of Legal in the energy sector.
Many respondents wanted firms to provide better value for money. "Get rid of equity partners who simply sit on top of the bills, add no value, and attempt to manage relationships," said a GC in healthcare.
Many in-house lawyers wanted firms to move away from time-based billing and towards fixed fees. "Remove reliance on the billable hour," said a GC in Private Equity. "Stop charging by the hour. It is inefficient, and breeds complacency and bad practice," said a client in retail.
A GC in consumer goods said firms should abolish time recording and have fixed fees: "It's absolutely ridiculous that firms with 40 years of time recording data on every conceivable problem cannot crunch the numbers and come out with fee levels that are profitable to them and acceptable to the clients," said
"Be more open to alternative pricing/advice structuring methods. It depends on the relationship, but when firms are working with me I would hope they understand I am an experienced lawyer in this market and don't need them to do the 'grunt work'. I am coming to them for specialist input on particular questions and only expect to pay for that part of the advice," said a respondent in financial services.
The way firms approached marketing was another gripe. "Dump the meaningless circulars and start tailoring things to the client. Pick up the phone for a quick word instead," said a GC in real estate.
"Less marketing emails," said an in-house lawyer in energy. "Substantive legal updates are helpful, marketing emails a waste of my time."
One respondent complained of how lawyers used social media to flex. "Please stop gushing about yourselves and your teams on LinkedIn. We don't care."
If you're in-house give your two cents below