Behind every corporate legal team or law firm inspired to deliver exceptional value to their corporate clients is a leader who recognizes the need for new levels of clarity as well as transparency in performance.
In this series, I interview legal industry leaders as well as innovators that are bringing transparency to legal performance in their own unique way. In this interview, I speak with Sylvia Chen, patent counsel, and head of patent operations at Google.
Google is constantly pushing the envelope to create new ways for people and additionally businesses to interact with technology. It’s no surprise that they also bring innovation to legal processes. An excellent example is a process they’ve developed to assess the value that Google’s many outside counsel patent firms provide.
Part 2: Transparency in Performance Discussions with Law Firms
What was the initial reaction of the law firms when they learned they were being evaluated?
There was some trepidation. Firms asked a lot of questions about the scorecard process. We asked firms how they felt about the process and even asked them what they thought our metrics meant.
How much of the results data did you share with the law firms?
Our assessments are available to all our firms through our department’s website for outside counsel. Results for all firms are visible but individual firms are not disclosed; instead, each row has a unique identity code. Each firm receives complete details on its own performance, providing perspective on strengths and also areas for improvement. Firms are given their identity codes so they can look at their various rankings in relation to other firms. While the firms only know of their respective performance, they can see their performance compared to other firms anonymously.
What were the reactions of law firms to the assessments?
For the 2015 report card, a small percentage of firms were defensive. The most positive reactions were from firms that really wanted to know what we thought, were eager to improve and were appreciative of the insight. One firm was grateful to have their results to share internally. It enabled them to make a stronger case to their colleagues as well as the firm’s leadership. For the 2016 report cards that came out early this year, only one firm didn’t really agree with their assessment.
How did the discussions happen?
We sent scores to the law firms one month in advance of our discussion to give them time to digest the information and prepare their thoughts and ideas before we got together. We also spent considerable time preparing ourselves. Not surprisingly, our law firms also wanted to share their feedback with us. It was very important for us not to be defensive or dismissive of their perspectives. This requires approaching the discussions with the right attitude, this also does not happen without thorough preparation.
What do you think is the key to effective performance discussions with law firms?
Preparation on both sides, the willingness to get better, with transparency, openness and a lack of defensiveness.
Qualmet is a cloud-based SaaS provider. Offering customers a single sign-on platform to objectively as well as easily evaluate the quality of service. Services provided by their outside counsel as well as alternative legal service providers. Many of the world’s largest law firms and corporate law departments collaborated in the development of Qualmet. The Qualmet tool uniquely positions users to quickly as well as easily measure the value delivered by their service providers. By coupling industry-aligned evaluation as well as legal metrics with objective benchmarking capabilities, Qualmet helps customers define and drive meaningful cost savings as well as value in their organizations. Qualmet’s searchable database of evaluated service providers ranked based on objective metrics is the first of its kind in the legal industry. Know Where You Stand™. Let Qualmet help you drive sustainable and meaningful value for your organization. Follow us on Facebook for updates.