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What clients want – Legal Week looked at the data to find out

Author: Alex Novarese

24 Feb 2012 | 16:10

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Everyone knows clients get bombarded with legal information, much of it from law firms. How much of that material they are interested in or find useful is a good deal harder to divine.

I had a chance to get some broad indications on the point while working on the launch of Legal Week Law, our online library of legal briefings, which is aimed at in-house legal teams. Since the site generates detailed information on clients' reading habits, working on it gave us a reasonable idea of the practice areas and topics that resonate.

More than that, we learned a good deal about the presentational factors help to make briefings stand out or strike a chord with in-house lawyers. (The site, which continues to attract more than 1,000 new registered users a month, has more than 18,000 members, including nearly 2,000 general counsel/heads of legal).

Looking at the most popular briefings - both in terms of downloads and the number of most positive ratings - it's clear that clients view the law very differently to their private practice counterparts. External counsel are often focused on the '‘narrative' or intellectual merits of changes in statue, regulation and case law, and produce briefings accordingly.

You only have to glance at Legal Week Law's data to know that such considerations gain little traction with clients. They are primarily focused on the law in the context of risk and return to their business. That, and minimising the hassle of their daily lives. Shockingly, they have little love for law for its own sake.

Clients are also far more drawn to material that arranges legal information within a practical context, whether in the form of an accessible reference tool or via articles that draw pragmatic conclusions. In comparison, straight reporting of case law, which many law firms max out their PSL to cover, gains little attention from clients without a very clear angle or unless it is a ruling with very wide implications.

Anyway, having spent the time to try to work out what material appeals to clients - and finding that many law firms struggle to tell - we have created a short guide on the topic, which we are starting to distribute to the law firms we work with on Legal Week Law. As it has proved popular in the initial discussions, we may expand it. Interested parties should contact Legal Week Law content manager Jonathan Levene on jonathan.levene@legalweek.com.

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