Copy link

Have you ever wondered why your clients prefer your law firm over others? Or perhaps what they particularly dislike about your own legal services? Our survey gauges the opinions of in-house counsel on their pet peeves with law firms, as well as what hot topics have them engaging with their own legal teams. Putro Harnowo reports


low turnaround time and overpricing are the biggest turn-offs for in-house counsel in the region when dealing with their law firm counterparts, according to our survey tapping their top complaints. Poor quality of service, unmet expectations and poor communications are also among the top five grievances that make these clients unhappy.

Their views are what law firms would do well to take into consideration, and are contained in the latest Asia Business Law Journal survey to hear the real opinions of in-house counsel and better understand their expectations. The findings update from last year’s survey published in our September/October 2021 issue, which lamented pricing issues and poor quality as their top complaints.

On a positive note, emerging technologies have unlocked new opportunities for businesses worldwide, and in-house counsel increasingly see the potential for legaltech to make their lives easier. Our survey also gathers some strategies for optimising workloads in legal teams.

“The biggest legal challenge we face in our work is to ensure our business satisfies the increasingly complex compliance requirements imposed by different jurisdictions,” says Fan Linna, deputy head and general counsel of shipping finance at Bank of Communications Financial Leasing in Shanghai.

In view of this complexity, Fan sees the benefit of engaging those law firms that deliver fast turnaround, have a better understanding of the business, offer consistent quality of service, and that share newsletters and publications, particularly with legal updates in key jurisdictions where the company operates.

When dealing with the time-consuming process of dispute resolution, Satish Chopra, vice president at infrastructure concessions services provider Rohan Rajdeep Tollways in New Delhi, says law firms that can secure success at top speed are preferred.

As a business with operations across multiple states, “we require law firms who can support us on a day-to-day basis on issues in relation to our projects,” says Chopra. “An important aspect of our working relationships that we have with our law firms is to have a dedicated resource for fast turnaround time.”

Regular monitoring and sharing of information about regulations before they are signed into law are among the services that Maria Concepcion Simundac-Delos Santos, lead legal counsel at ING Bank in Manila, expects from law firms. Being aware of such upcoming changes, companies are able to give their input to regulators and anticipate potential impact.

“Cybersecurity and fintech are ever-changing landscapes,” says Simundac-Delos Santos. “It will be good if law firms can keep their clients up to date about the latest trends in the industry and their legal impacts.”

Quick and quality

Solving unprecedented problems in a timely fashion is the main task for which in-house counsel need outside assistance. However, among 76 respondents to our survey, more than half cited slow turnaround and pricing issues as the most common complaints, followed by poor quality of service, unmet expectations, and poor communications. When it comes to billing methods, the majority of in-house counsel preferred project-based fees and flat rates, rather than the conventional hourly rates.

To support the need for agile workflow and efficient output, our survey found that almost all in-house counsel have a positive view of legaltech. Almost half of the respondents (48%) said it was important or very important for law firms to utilise the latest legal technology, while a similar number (46%) thought it was moderately important. Five respondents said legaltech was only slightly important.

“Our biggest challenges are the tight timeline with the complexity of the transaction and the ever-changing requirements of authorities from multiple jurisdictions,” says Michelle Hung, general counsel and company secretary at COSCO Shipping Ports in Hong Kong.

You must be a subscribersubscribersubscribersubscriber to read this content, please subscribesubscribesubscribesubscribe today.

For group subscribers, please click here to access.
Interested in group subscription? Please contact us.



Read more
Survey reports and Infographics

What’s ahead?

Our survey gathers opinions from legal professionals on their hopes in 2023

In-house counsel turn-offs with law firms

The business of billing

As clients get savvier, law firms face pressure to lower their fees

CCI’s Penalty Orders Need Guidance, Consistency

Counting blessings

We conducted its annual legal market survey with 94 leading law firms to seek their views on trends of the past year

Don’t Ignore CCI’s Teeth

For more stories about legal market

Our methodology

To find out what in-house counsel in the region think about the legal services they have received, and how they select law firms to help with their tasks, Asia Business Law Journal invited them to participate in an extensive survey, carried out in October and November. The report draws on an analysis of responses from 76 in-house counsel in mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

Nominations were made by professionals in leading companies in the region including: Acen, Bank of Communications Financial Leasing, Berjaya Group, BOC Aviation, Boehringer Ingelheim (China) Investment, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Burberry Asia, BW Group, Cabot Corporation, Carl Zeiss Greater China, CBC Group, Chengdu RML Technology, China Buildman Fairs International, China National Aviation Fuel Group Logistics, China Power International Holding, China Railway Group, China Renaissance, Continental Group, COSCO Shipping Ports, Dentsu, Deutsche Bank, Eastern Pacific Shipping, Fubon Bank (Hong Kong), Gainwell CAT, Henkel (China) Investment, Hindustan Petroleum Corp, Huawei, Hutchison Ports, IGT Solutions Private, Infosys, ING Bank,, Jindal Stainless, Kone, L’Oreal, Mahindra Finance, Nestle Hong Kong, New Bright Industrial, PCCW-HKT, Co-ordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs of Indonesia, Prudential Singapore, Hino Finance Indonesia, Quest Global, Rohan Rajdeep Tollways, SIG Asia Investments, SKF China, Sumitomo Corp, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Group, Standard Chartered Bank, Swiss Re Asia, Tata Capital Financial Services, Tata Consumer, Twitter, Tysan Holdings, Unipec, United Energy Group, WWF Indonesia, Xiaomi Corp and many more.

Copy link