If you’re a firm that offers expertise in specific practice areas rather than general services only, then you’ll move up in Microsoft Corp.’s forthcoming revamped firm-hiring program.
According to a Big Law Business report, as part of the broader shift in how law departments interact with outside firms and the corporations’ increasing need for budgeting predictability, Microsoft plans to overhaul its “preferred provider program” over the next 12 to 18 months.
Per the report, the new program will not only prioritize those firms that offer expertise in specific practice areas but also will experiment with “affinity relationships” — firm panels that provide expertise and advice on issues. In an effort “to shake up the traditional relationship of one managing partner to one senior attorney in [the] department,” the new program also intends to connect in-house junior attorneys with female and minority firm associates.
Back to the broader shift in thinking within departments, the report quotes ACC president and CEO Veta T. Richardson:
“General counsel are looking for general flexibility with their law firms around how their relationship is structured, to make sure there’s more value they’re bringing to the company and not just bleeding money by the hour.”
Microsoft, too, is making efforts to move beyond the billable hour by incorporating alternative fee arrangement targets into their budgets.
An additional hope the company has for its new hiring program is that it will help to validate and support new positions within firms like chief marketing officers, data analysts, program managers, project managers and financial modelers and their work. Microsoft views these positions as potentially helping firms lower their costs, with the savings being passed on to clients. Microsoft also wants to help encourage the incorporation of technology and automation. In many ways, through this program overhaul, the company is an agent of change.