Even many otherwise highly sophisticated CFOs and financial departments have a hard time estimating expenses and doing the fundamental accounting and bookkeeping they need to control costs and keep outside counsel appropriately reined in.
Hiring outside counsel to handle urgent, time-sensitive work (or even ongoing, non-sensitive projects) can be heartburn inducing, particularly if you’re tasked with keeping your team’s financials in line and reducing costs. Here are five battle-tested tips for making sure that the money that you do spend on outside counsel is spent wisely and that you get an appropriate return on any investment.
Outside Counsel Management 101: How Often Should You Review the Performance of Your Outside Counsel?
Whether you task outside counsel with predictable ongoing requirements, or you and your team send work out on an ad hoc basis, you need metrics to track performance as well as processes to keep your budget in line and deliverables appropriate.
The process of formal performance reviews isn’t always the most eagerly anticipated part of the work year for most managers and employees. So why should it be looked upon more positively by outside counsel and, say, corporate general counsel or other managers within an in-house legal department?
As much as they may not want to admit it, some general counsel find themselves in a position at times where monitoring and controlling outside counsel activity begins to resemble the proverbial difficult task of herding cats.
Cutting costs is a never-ending quest and topic of discussion for legal departments. Like accounting, HR, or marketing, it’s looked upon as a cost center and often at the head of line when cutbacks are targeted.
With an eye toward budget predictability and managing risk, more and more legal departments are looking for opportunities to implement alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) with outside counsel as an element of legal spend management.
Ask any general counsel what keeps them up at night regarding outside counsel management, what gets them frustrated, or what even makes them want to fire a firm, you’re likely to get some variation on this: unmet expectations.
Law firms and legal departments may not typically have a reputation for being early adopters of technological advances. But to play in the game in 2017, it’s important by now to be taking advantage of the time-saving, performance-enhancing software that’s readily available.
“Surprise!” is not something you usually want to hear from someone who is reporting to you on outside counsel billing or the entire spend of your legal department.