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.
In today’s legal world, there are so many compelling reasons for incorporating e-billing technology that it’s not so much a question anymore of whether a company should implement it but rather, simply, when — or why it hasn’t already been done.
The most effective working arrangement between inside counsel and outside counsel reflects the best elements of a successful business relationship and a true long term association. Specifically, it brings together two parties with needs and capabilities aligned; operates collaboratively, in an environment of mutual respect; and benefits from a foundation of trust and partnership.
It’s a new world out there, and if you’re a General Counsel, you’d better be brave.
More and more, the GC is becoming a key, proactive player not just in legal matters – ensuring that the company operates legally and dealing out legal advice (personally or through staff and outside counsel) – but also in strategic business decisions and issues involving risk management, finance, marketing, human resources, production, sales, and more.
On the surface, it’s often easy to look at billing as the conclusion of a phase or engagement. But the fact is that it can also be a source of valuable information to set the foundation for planning and strategizing for the future.
In today’s business world, where analytics plays such a key role in performance management and the strategic distribution of resources, it’s not a matter of “if” key performance indicators (KPIs) should be instituted, but “when,” “what,” “how,” and “why.”
Communication is a two-way street – and transparency is what drives communication to be the pathway to a successful relationship.
Certainly that’s the case when it comes to the relationship between outside counsel and inside counsel. Too often (in the corporate world) this can be a strained or even adversarial working arrangement, with suspicion, misconceptions, or unwanted surprises taking their toll. With transparency and clear communication, however, both parties can work toward the desired outcome – quality legal services performed efficiently for agreed-upon compensation – while avoiding potholes and pitfalls.