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Law firms not likely to be recommended by in-house teams

New research from Lawyers Weekly and Momentum Intelligence shows that, while corporate counsel are largely satisfied with their external providers on various metrics, those in-house teams are largely unconvinced they should recommend said providers.

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What is the Legal Firm of Choice Survey?

Now in its eighth iteration, the Top 25 Attraction Firms ranking is a key element of the Legal Firm of Choice Survey, which identifies the most sought-after private legal practices across the country.

This latest survey was conducted between 14 November and 13 December 2022 and received 462 responses in total, recording the attitudes, priorities and perceptions of legal professionals in Australia — including 104 corporate counsel.


Last week, Lawyers Weekly published the Top 25 Attraction Firms ranking for 2022–23, detailing which firms lawyers in private practice would most like to move to. Also revealed last week were findings that one-quarter of lawyers plan to leave their current firms and will do so in the coming months, and which lawyers are most likely to leave in the near future.

Inaugural in-house findings

For the first time, the Legal Firm of Choice Survey polled in-house respondents, exploring — among other things — which firms law departments engaged, the volume of law firms utilised by one’s law department in the past year, whether those in-house professionals would recommend their chosen firms to others, and how they would rank the performance of the firms engaged.

Net promoter score

In-house respondents were asked the following: “How likely is it that you would recommend each of [your utilised] external law firms to a friend or colleague?”

As detailed by Momentum Intelligence in its report, participants were able to select on a scale between one (i.e. not likely at all to recommend) to 10 (extremely likely). Scores of nine and 10 are considered “promoters”, scores of seven and eight are considered “passive”, and scores between one and six are considered “detractors”.

Momentum Intelligence director Michael Johnson noted that the net promoter score (NPS) is a “widely recognised measure that is valuable in understanding the satisfaction, loyalty and growth of client relationships”.

“It is a key marker of a successful business and gives context as to the likelihood of growth through word-of-mouth,” he explained.

“If businesses have more promoters than detractors, it is likely that the business will grow.”



According to the findings, less than three in 10 (28 per cent) of in-house lawyers are promoters of the external providers on their legal services panels — meaning that more than seven in 10 corporate counsel are not likely to recommend the firms they utilise to their colleagues across the market.

Almost half (46 per cent) of corporate counsel are passive on the question of whether they are likely to recommend their firms to others, while one in four (26 per cent) are considered detractors — that is, they are not at all likely to recommend the firms that they engage.

The NPS, based on all respondents, was 1.31.


When broken down by gender, it appears that female in-house lawyers are more inclined to be more generous with their recommendations, with 31 per cent of women respondents listed as promoters, compared to just one in five (20 per cent) of males.

However, women are also more likely to be detractors, at 28 per cent compared to 23 per cent of men.

Most male respondents (57 per cent) are passive on the question of whether they would recommend the firms that their law departments utilise, compared to 41 per cent of women.

The gender-based NPS was 3.18 for female respondents and -3.49 for male respondents.

State by state

Elsewhere, jurisdictional breakdowns fluctuate wildly.

In Victoria and Tasmania, two in five (41 per cent) of corporate counsel are likely to recommend their external providers to colleagues, with just 11 per cent of in-house lawyers in these states listed as detractors, for an NPS of 29.11.

Those in South Australia and Western Australia had very strong views one way or the other — 38 per cent were promoters, while 33 per cent were detractors, for an NPS of 4.76.

Favourable impressions and recommendations are much harder to come by for those engaged by corporate counsel in NSW, the ACT and Queensland, however.

In NSW and ACT, 22 per cent are promoters, and 32 per cent are detractors (NPS of -9.57), while in Queensland, just 17 per cent are promoters, while 28 per cent are detractors (NPS of -11.11).


Lawyers Weekly editor Jerome Doraisamy said that readers might compare these findings to those revealed last week about overall satisfaction with external providers on metrics including communication and value for money, but stressed that any such comparison must be done on the basis of corporate counsel’s levels of “extreme satisfaction” versus “satisfaction”.

“NPS logic means that only respondents who score nine or 10 are likely to recommend their law firms to others. When contrasted with the ratings of external providers on certain metrics — just 11 per cent of in-house lawyers are ‘extremely satisfied’ with value for money, and just 16 are ‘extremely satisfied’ with their firms’ performances on cyber and data security — these latest findings come into sharp focus,” he advised.

The key takeaway for law firms from the research, Mr Doraisamy said, is that there is much room for improvement — not just so that one’s firm may be recommended to other law departments, but so that the firm can remain on legal services panels at all.

“With a potential recession coming, it is critically important that law firms ensure that the quality of their service be optimised — particularly given that only one in four (25 per cent) of corporate counsel are ‘extremely satisfied’ on this metric right now,” he warned.

To read Lawyers Weekly’s full coverage of the latest Legal Firm of Choice Survey, see below:

If there are particular elements of the Legal Firm of Choice Survey, or the Top 25 Attraction Firms ranking, that you or your business would want to learn about, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..