Has the time come to create a Zagat-type service to rate AmLaw 200 firms and their lawyers? 

Do clients sometimes feel that, in spite of overall good results, large law firm service is just not what it should be? I started thinking about this question after multiple service incidents in expensive hotels led me ultimately to give up on complaining. It’s not that my stays were terrible; it’s just that for the price, there were too many problems (e.g., not receiving a replacement light bulb after 4 requests). So are clients the same? Do they even bother complaining and at what point do they give up and switch firms?

I don’t have answers, but with web technology, one could create a service that let clients rate firms and lawyers. To be sure, many issues would need to be resolved: authentication, confidentiality, and accuracy among others. But just as many consumers rely on Zagat guides, “the clients’ guide to the AmLaw 200” could be invaluable. Clients could rate outcomes (normalized for difficulty), costs, communication, budgeting, speed of responding to e-mails or calls, and other elements of services.

Systematic ratings of law firms and lawyers would likely lead to better utilization of technology. Why? Client efforts to control outside counsel costs notwithstanding, it seems to me that the market is inefficient and operates on scant information. Arming GCs with outside counsel ratings would bring discipline to the market. Discipline would likely, over time, cause firms and lawyers to adopt more efficient ways of working. And that would lead to viewing technology in a different light, shifting it from mere tool to competitive necessity and differentiator.