Most arrogant law firms revealed

by NZ Lawyer15 Dec 2014
Leading global consulting firm BTI consulting group has published a definitive ranking of client service excellence for the corporate law firm market.

Now in its 14th year of publication, the report called the BTI Client Service A-Team, is used by law firms and general counsel to assess how they stack up in client service delivery.

The ranking of more than 300 law firms the 2015 report is the end result of close to 320 in-depth interviews with legal decision makers at the world’s leading organisations.

But as well as listing the top 30 firms for client service, the report also analyses the not-so-good.

It uncovered that general counsel view dozens of major law firms as “arrogant”, including some of the biggest names in the business.

American law news resource Law360 reported that in the report, 63 firms are (at least occasionally) considered smug – close to double the tally recorded during the GFC.

Pompous practices such as laying out legal solutions before giving a client the chance to be part of the process and not sugar-coating advice enough were some of the reasons that firms appeared on the arrogant list.

Interestingly, the firm that ranked number one in the report’s Client Service top 30, was also a majorly smug repeat offender.

For the fifth year in a row, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom checked off more bossy boxes than any other law firm. But its parallel number one appearance on the list of the finest firms means it must be doing something right.

“What they will tell you is that those law firms that are just the most passionate about what they do, that that is a positive arrogance,” BTI Consulting President Michael Rynowecer told Law360.

And in further evidence that success and pompousness can sometimes mix, half of the firms that made the Client Services 30 were also considered arrogant by general counsel. Top offenders included Gibson Dunn, Jones Day, Kirkland & Ellis and Sidley Austin.

However, the BTI report also highlights that this isn’t always the case, and being too arrogant can often be detrimental.

“Sometimes, arrogance is simply an ego-driven trait manifesting itself in client-unfocused ways,” it said.

Two firms, Seyfarth Shaw and Thompson Hine, have made the top 30 list for three years in a row, and during this time, neither has ever been described as cocky by a single survey respondent.  

Ultimately, this shows that although many arrogant firms manage can make their clients happy at the same time, it’s not necessary to have an ego to deliver successful results. 

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