Support Your Local Independent Consultant

More and more I’m seeing corporations turning to regional firms to handle their legal matters, especially when it comes to e-discovery. Is this a national trend? Well last week Ron Friedmann noted anecdotal evidence of GC’s ” moving work to firms with lower billing rates” and now today in Law.com comes an article on a survey from BTI Consulting reporting that large corporations were reducing their outside firms from a 2007 level of two primary law firms, 10 secondary firms and 40 other firms they sometimes use to (by 2012) two primary firms, six secondary firms and 23 other firms. (The survey was based on telephone interviews made in December 2008 and again in May of this year of 550 companies with average revenue of $26 billion and average annual legal spending of $20 million)

 More importantly BTI reported corporate counsel are also indicating a reluctance to work with firms that aren’t flexible in billing, staffing matters and communicating with the client. This increasing demand for flexibility by GC’s creates opportunities for smaller firms, and BTI research shows those companies making a definite migration to smaller firms. According to the data, companies now have fewer relationships with Am Law 100 and 200 firms — exactly what I’ve been seeing.

The curious part is that the reason is not necessarily billing rates. BTI President Michael B. Rynowecer said in the report that corporations are cutting their own legal staffs by as much as 20% and are using fewer outside law firms because their newly short-staffed corporate legal departments simply don’t have the time to manage outside firms. Ron suggests that the answer is removing costs, by which he means “lowering the demand for legal services and, for those services still required, reducing the hours required to perform them.”

It seems to me this is exactly where consulting services come into play … by helping a business analyze their workflow and determine which part of their legal work can be reduced or eliminated. Corporations need to better manage their legal services and that involves a comprehensive look a how they work, including their use of outside counsel. The best person to make that analysis is an independent consultant who has no stake in the final decision.

So  improve how you handle your litigation workflow and support your local litigation consultant at the same time.  You’ll increae efficiency, improve your bottom line and  manage your litgation better all at the same time.

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