Lee Pacchia, ABA Journal
Trevor Faure, Global Leader of Legal Services for Ernst & Young, tells Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia that general counsels at large corporations are looking for four things from the law firms which represent them: professional telepathy, professional prescience, exceptional client service and cost efficiency. “But please note, [cost efficiency] will be fourth, after delivering and bringing the first three,” Faure says. (read the article)
Ari Kaplan, Reinventing Professionals
I spoke with Michael do Rozario and Brian Borskjaer, Special Counsel and Director of the firm’s Legal Technology Solutions team, respectively, at Corrs Chambers Westgarth, a prominent Australian law firm with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth.
We discussed Casefolio, the firm’s new award-winning document review app, its development, and the user experience, among many other topics. (read the post)
Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal
A small but growing number of law firms are launching apps that help and possibly impress their clients.
Latham & Watkins released its latest app last week, one that helps clients learn more about overseas anti-bribery laws, the Recorder reports. Previous apps by the firm explain jargon in fields such as finance and capital markets.
Law firm consultant Kent Zimmermann says the apps are getting more sophisticated and can be used to bolster image. “It sends a message to the market that this isn’t your grandfather’s law firm anymore,” he told the Recorder. (read the article)
Gina Passarella, Corporate Counsel
After a few years of collecting financial data and applying project management techniques to the legal process, law firms are beginning to dedicate resources to pricing analysis.
Firms are analyzing and strategizing on pricing in order to properly staff matters handled on alternative fee arrangements, provide a client with more cost certainty and, perhaps just as important, ensure the firm is not losing money on a fee arrangement.
“The data tells the story better than people can sometimes,” said Reed Smith Chief Knowledge Officer Thomas Baldwin. (read the article)
Gina Passarella, Law Technology News
When Pepper Hamilton hired a businessman to serve as its CEO, it set the tone for how the firm would approach the delivery of legal services.
Since Scott Green took over as CEO in February 2012, he has drawn from his days running business operations for WilmerHale in creating two new positions for Pepper Hamilton.
Jason Lichter joined Pepper Hamilton in September from Seyfarth Shaw to serve as the firm’s director of discovery services and litigation support. A month later, Peter Lane Secor left his role as manager of complex client services for WilmerHale to join Pepper Hamilton as the first director of strategic pricing and project management. (read the article)
Martha Neil, ABA Journal
A death-knell for the era of great expectations for BigLaw firms has been sounded by the bankruptcies of, among others, Howrey; Heller Ehrman; Thelen; and last year’s record-breaking Chapter 11 filing by Dewey & LeBoeuf, experts say.
They predict further law firm failures and a move toward smaller, less cumbersome legal partnerships, as clients look to hire practitioners with the right expertise at the right price rather than simply selecting counsel based on a BigLaw brand name. There are some exceptions–firms such as Cahill Gordon & Reindel and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, as well as Cravath Swaine & Moore and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz are still clear go-to choices for bet-the-farm litigation and corporate matters, respectively. (read the post)
Sarah Mui, ABA Journal
Jean P. O’Grady, a knowledge strategist at DLA Piper took on this year’s Alternative Fee Arrangements at Legal Departments and Law Firms report at Dewey B. Strategic. And she noticed some other things on top of all of the stats about the prevalence of AFAs.
“A careful reading of the report shows that the real drivers of the AFA movement are not the GCs but the corporate executives and often the procurement departments who have been charged with rationalizing and reducing legal spending using the same tools they use for the procurement of office equipment,” O’Grady writes. (read the post)
For a profession sometimes criticized as being slow to change, the law seems to be flying into use of cloud computing for legal work.
The ABA Legal Technology Resource Center’s 2013 survey of ABA lawyers shows a heady amount of satisfaction with online-based software solutions. Among this year’s findings in the report’s volume on law office technology are:
• Asked if they had ever used Web-based software, 30.7 percent of respondents answered affirmatively. That number is up from 20.9 percent in 2012 and 15.5 percent in 2011. Solo practitioners were the most likely to respond affirmatively at 40.2 percent.
• Among those who reported having used cloud computing for law-related tasks, 70.4 percent said they would continue using them in the future. While 8.8 percent said they would not use them, 14.7 percent answered “maybe.”
• Among those who reported they had not used cloud computing, the top factors that prevented them were:
» 57.7 percent: confidentiality and security concerns.
» 47.4 percent: less control of data because it’s hosted by the provider.
» 47.4 percent: unfamiliarity with the technology.
» 17 percent: cost. (read the post)
Ron Friedman, Strategic Legal Technology
One reason that clients of large law firms want alternative fee arrangements (AFA) is to drive efficiency. The right AFA structure motivates firms to maximize productivity. In AFA World, what does productivity mean and can firms improve it?
In Billable Hour World, “productivity” means annual hours billed per attorney. Elsewhere, it means “output per hour.” In a firm, think of output as briefs per hour, documents reviewed per hour, transaction documents written per hour, and so forth. In AFA World, firms that keep lawyer headcount steady but finish more matters per week or month make more money.
One driver of lawyer output per hour is support staff. The more “non core legal work” lawyers delegate to staff, the higher their output. Many firms, however, have cut support, at least in the form of secretaries. Until about 20 years ago, the typical lawyer to secretary ratio was 2:1. Today, 3:1 is the new 2:1. Many firms now drive it as high 5:1 or 6:1. In AFA World, that trend may have to reverse. (read the post)
Steven J. Harper, The Am Law Daily
Last month, I wrote a New York Times op-ed that discussed the billable hour regime and its unfortunate consequences for the legal profession. The piece generated a lot of response, most of which supported my theme. Readers generally agreed that the system rewards unproductive behavior, invites abuse, and pits attorneys’ financial self-interest against their clients’ goals.
DEFENDING THE BILLABLE HOUR
Even so, the Times published a letter to the editor in which Alan B. Moldawer, executive vice president and general counsel of Veolia Transportation—“the largest private sector operator of multiple modes of transit in North America,” according to its website, with transit and rail management contracts in such cities as San Francisco, Boston, and Miami—responded to the article by defending hourly billing. (read the article)