I am tired of hearing in-house lawyers sounding weak and defensive, and believing that they have to devise complicated key performance indicators to defend the quality of their services (‘How to: set in-house KPIs’).
It seems to be generally accepted that the systems do not actually work, because once you move away from the basic time-recorded/work-in-progress/billing matrix, performance in the commercial world is really judged by talking to directors and managers, and asking them to express their opinion on services provided. In-house lawyers should learn to be much more self-confident.
The in-house sector is a quarter of the profession now, having doubled in size in the past 10 years. Fifteen years ago, we were regarded as lawyers who could not cut it in private practice – the poor relations of the profession. But not any more. We had a great recession. Businesses decided that with an oversupply of lawyers, it made sense to build their own legal teams in-house. So, it is all about us now. It has become a client-led legal services market – and we are the ones leading it.
So let us see a bit of swagger and confidence, and less of this defensive focus on KPIs and justifying our existence.
Christopher Digby-Bell, former general counsel, London W1