Law Practice Management
Five-Star Law Firms? ACC Publishes Ratings, to Mixed Reviews
Posted Nov 10, 2009 10:40 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Clients’ one- to five-star ratings of law firms are being published online for all 25,000 members of the Association of Corporate Counsel, but the report cards will be off-limits to law firms, at least for now.
So far, 1,500 in-house lawyers have submitted reviews of legal acumen and costs for about 500 law firms. Critics say the reviews create concern because they may be submitted anonymously, and could be the product of disgruntled former associates with axes to grind, the National Law Journal reports. Some law firms also question the ranking system that uses the kind of five-point scale used for restaurants and movies, according to the Boston Business Journal.
Among the lawyers voicing concerns is David Rosenblatt, managing partner of Boston-based Burns & Levinson. “I would question the validity of coming up with some type of numerical rating system for a firm because of the nature of legal services,” Rosenblatt told the Boston Business Journal. “It’s not a consumer product like a car or a refrigerator.”
James Westra, managing partner of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, said he encourages dialogue with clients and he agrees that law firms need to provide value. But he questions whether the ACC system will be a good barometer of performance. “I don’t think most sophisticated general counsels are going to make their decisions based on the Zagat’s guide for law firms,” he told the Boston Business Journal.
Although the ACC isn't allowing law firms to peek at the online reviews now, the group plans to share the results with firms after the number reaches a critical mass.
ACC President Fred Krebs told the National Law Journal that so far the ratings have been on the high side, reaching an average of about 4.4 or 4.5. "We're not interested in bad-mouthing firms or beating up on firms," Krebs said. "This is meant to be a member service and to stimulate dialogue."