The Lawyer-Client Disconnect

For the legal expertise sections of the FT Innovative Lawyers reports, RSG Consulting interviews hundreds of lawyers each year about the the most complex, successful, and high profile deals and cases they have worked on during their careers. We also speak to their clients about their experiences during what are often bet-the-company, and sometimes save-the-company moments of transformation.

The nature of these deals means there is usually agreement that the lawyers played an important and highly valuable role. But there is surprisingly little agreement on just where or how they delivered the most value. This disconnect between lawyers and their clients exists in every region and segment of the market we examine, although the patterns vary between them.

We have mapped the 20 areas most frequently named by clients, ranging from their lawyers’ creativity, proactivity, understanding of the industry to project management, communication skills, or ability to persuade key stakeholders.

Against this we compare where the lawyers believe they made the most important contribution. While the lawyers often have a different view to their clients, there is a great deal of commonality between them. Lawyers frequently focus on the legal solutions they create. On the other hand, clients are far more likely to value the lawyers’ broader skills and comment on how the legal service or advice was delivered. For example, the way lawyers communicate with their clients – how frequently and proactively, how concise they are, how able they are to speak in the language of the business – is highly prized by clients, yet barely mentioned by the lawyers themselves.

We chart the disconnect across all 20 areas of service and delivery in our What Next? Innovation Strategy for Law Firms report which draws together our analysis and benchmarks of innovation in the legal sector. The report will be published in the weeks following the publication of the FT Innovative Lawyers Report for Europe, out with the FT on the 5th of October. For more information, or to be added to our mailing list for updates when the report is launched, please email us at