In-House Counsel Need to Get Smart(er) About Tech
Dan Currell, Corporate Counsel
Maybe it’s time for in-house lawyers to ditch all the technology and dust off their fountain pens.
Our company, CEB, recently ran a full-scale study of in-house legal technology, interviewing corporate counsel and surveying 117 companies on the implementation and performance of their six most common technology systems (contract management, document management, e-billing, e-discovery, IP management and matter management). The study assessed such things as cost, efficiency and quality. We also asked corporate counsel about the biggest risks to successful implementation–and since a truly successful implementation is so hard, those risks are awfully important.
The brainchild of Casey Flaherty, an attorney at Kia Motors, the Legal Tech Audit is designed to help in-house and firms alike understand the technology prowess of their team or partners. The LTA assesses how well timekeepers and staff use basic law practice technology, such as word processing and spreadsheets. The information provided by the LTA can be used in many ways. For example, law firms may want to use the results as part of annual reviews or as a way to incentivize technological efficiency and lower costs. Strong results can be marketed to clients and improve a law firm’s bottom line. Clients may want to use the information when selecting law firms for particular types of legal work or when negotiating appropriate hourly rates.
The LTA will be available to registered takers September 2nd. Clients can request scores of their outside timekeepers October 31st.
Learn more at LegalTechAudit.com.
The Myth of More Time for Billing
Sam Glover, Lawyerist
As a lawyer, time is your most-valuable asset whether you spend it billing time or completing flat-fee tasks. So it makes sense to free up as much of your time for doing more billing, right?
Well, it depends.
Determining when to outsource legal services
Gail Blauer, Michael Caplan, and Nikhil Lala of InsideCounsel
Once a corporate legal department determines which services to outsource, it should next determine the ideal time to make such a transition. In assessing whether a function is ready for outsourcing, a company should determine whether the process requires further maturation within the organization before being sourced and, if so, whether they should outsource before, during or after internally transforming those processes. As LPO solutions become more commonplace in the market, corporate legal departments are beginning to take a more sophisticated approach to legal service assessment and to view LPO as a way to supplement or complement broader corporate transformation initiatives.
Dennis Kennedy, A Practical Application, American Bar Association
Lawyers tend to be unwilling to look to other professions or industries to find ways to improve their practices and work. We might call this approach “law practice exceptionalism,” the belief that nearly every aspect of the practice of law is unique and must be considered in isolation from what we see elsewhere. We all have heard or said, “But law is different. Really.”
As a result, lawyers have been reluctant to adopt approaches that have proven successful in other industries—project management techniques, business process strategies and much more. However, the inflexibility goes much further than that. Many lawyers refuse to even consider anything that comes from outside the profession. The common question is too often, “How many other law firms do x?” rather than, “How successful has x been elsewhere?”
Even though I am tempted to say that my Big Idea is simply for lawyers to look at and consider approaches that have been successful in other professions and industries, that’s not my approach. Instead, I want to focus on one example—that is, turning services into products or, if you will, the “productization of services.” (read the post)
To Make AFAs Profitable, Change the Client Relationship
Sue Reisinger, Corporate Counsel
About 22 percent of law firms in a new survey said they are profiting by offering alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) to corporate clients. But that means some 78 percent haven’t figured it out yet.
“AFAs only work when your client relationships are at the absolute highest levels of trust–not just a good relationship–but a deep, embedded relationship,” says The Mad Clientist, a blog from BTI Consulting Group. BTI partnered with Law360 to survey 750 law firm attorneys about their fees.
General counsel know a considerable amount about the law firms retained by them, the services they provide, and the fees they charge. However, those same general counsel may not know how to assemble the various kinds of data into a coherent, unified picture. For example, they may know average billing rates of their primary law firms and the number of matters worked on by those firms in the most recent fiscal year. But general counsel who believe that they can learn from the thoughtful collection and analysis of metrics may not know how to integrate those two very different kinds of facts.