Male lawyers failing to impress female in-house clients

by Ben Abbott28 Jan 2015
Male-dominated law firms will need to adjust their approach to legal service if they are to win over and meet the needs of female in-house clients.
New legal research reveals that male and female buyers approach the purchase of legal services differently, meaning traditional approaches could be failing.
Research conducted by Acritas has found that expectations, communication and satisfaction ratings can differ significantly between male and female buyers.
“Our Sharplegal data highlights the way in which stereotypical approaches to new business and client service, based around masculine values and preferences, can jeopardize a firm’s chances of winning work from female GCs,” Acritas CEO Lisa Hart Shepherd said. “A change in thinking and culture is needed if men want to impress an increasingly influential group of female in-house counsel who value business understanding and efficient communication over reputation, personal relationships and trust when choosing their preferred legal partner.”
The research found that men were 2.5 times more likely than women to spend more on firms based on their ‘level of trust’ in the firm, with women instead rating a deeper ‘understanding of my business’ as more important.
Men were influenced by ‘trustworthiness and reliability’ and ‘experience and track record’ of firms, and were likely to recommend providers based on the standards that they had in place and the qualifications held by their lawyers.
Women, on the other hand wanted firms to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of their female client’s business and her needs, including demonstrating ‘knowledge of how I work’ on the path to winning new work.
Female in-house counsel were also much more heavily influenced by the quality and quantity of communication with their external legal providers, being more inclined to want regular and better communication.
“Acritas’ data not only reveals the approach that female GCs generally favor, but also their preferred communication channels. For example, 43% of women working in senior in house legal roles said they used LinkedIn on a daily or weekly basis, compared with just a third of men,” Hart Shephard said.
“Furthermore, only a quarter of women said they never used the social network, compared to two fifths of men, suggesting that new business approaches to women may be better made online than ‘on the golf course’.”