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In the hotly contested market of commercial law, what helps a firm stand out from the many others in competition?

It’s a good question to ask Client Choice Award winner Gilbert + Tobin. The firm recently won Best Law & Related Services Firm (>$200m revenue) at the Client Choice Awards 2023.

“We believe strongly that the commerciality of our advice sets us apart and we were pleased to see this come through in the survey results,” said Tim Gordon, Executive Partner in the firm’s Corporate Advisory Group.

“Our partners and senior people are always very hands-on and accessible to clients, which also was a feature of our results.”

The Client Choice Awards are the only professional services awards in the world that measure results based on the feedback of clients, rather than judging panels or other experts. Winners are thus the “clients’ choice” – reflecting how clients see those firms as best in class. Winning not only commends firms on outstanding client service but also delivers an objective assessment from clients’ eyes on how the firm is performing, compared to similar firms of the same size and profession.

The judging process involves Beaton surveying tens of thousands of clients via the annual Beaton Benchmarks survey, then scoring each firm against their competitors to determine winners. A simplified version of a Beaton Benchmarks report, featuring this anonymised feedback data, is later provided to firms that enter – winners or not. Entrant firms also have fast-tracked access to the more comprehensive Beaton Benchmarks reports in the same year.

Gordon said his firm looked forward to receiving this feedback report each year and that it was arguably the most rewarding part of the awards.

“The first thing we did was to share the news with all of our people, who do so much to deliver great service for our clients,” Gordon said. “That was about the extent of the celebration, we were more interested in getting into the detail of the Beaton Benchmarks survey and looking for where we could improve further.”

Gordon recognised that analysing and acting on the feedback from previous years had put his firm in a position to win in 2023.

“We’ve tracked our progress over many years and each year the benchmarks have helped us focus in on particular themes to drive improvement. A few years ago, for example, we had a major push on responsiveness and what that meant for our clients. It is particularly helpful to have insights across the funnel – from awareness through to repeat business.”

Of course, not all feedback provided by the Client Choice Awards process is positive. Not even for winning firms like Gilbert + Tobin. However, Gordon noted this negative feedback was invaluable for guiding strategies for his team to change and improve.

“One thing we have picked up from the feedback, particularly the verbatim comments, is how inconsistency of experience can undermine client confidence. We have seen examples of this over the years and it has helped us to work with our people to improve not only the overall level, but the consistency of experience our clients have of working with us,” he said.

Gilbert + Tobin was named Best Law & Related Services Firm (>$200m revenue) at the 2023 Client Choice Awards. This award is presented in partnership with FeeSynergy and association partner Australasian Legal Practice Management Association.

Enter the 2024 Client Choice Awards here.