We recently hosted a webinar which discussed strategies on how counsel can work together and focus on process, communication and technology in order to increase efficiency and cut costs.
Forming a Seamless Relationship: Tactics for Facilitating Collaboration Between Inside and Outside Counsel was hosted by LLM’s VP of Technology, Lindsay Stevens, and featured the expertise and experience of Don Knight, Application Manager for PNC, and Greg Casas, Shareholder for Greenberg Traurig.
The hour-long session, recorded and available here, covered several key areas: Knowledge Management; Project Management; Bids, Billing and Budgets; AFAs; Litigations and Investigations; and Relationship Reporting.
Webinar host Lindsay Stevens dove right into Knowledge Management, leading a discussion on the usefulness of templates and playbooks for transactional work that can also be shared with outside counsel. This immediately provides outside counsel with the exact information they need. Preferably, a documentation guide, which provides much-needed clarity, should be updated every quarter. It’s also helpful to inside and outside counsel to implement technologies that facilitate shared document resources.
Thinking like a project manager is also important and beneficial to inside and outside counsel. The first step to making sure everyone’s on the same page is to designate a main contact for the matter from each side. As Knight said, without these singular contact points, fragmentation can occur. From the main contact points, strategic and financial planning discussions can take place. Guidelines for outside counsel must be defined and adhered to. Regular, documented status reports are absolutely essential. And once again, technology plays an important role by helping centralize communication and provide real-time status.
Also during the project management discussion, Casas helpfully spoke to the incredible value of a Legal Practice Management group. An LPM group can coordinate with vendors and put together and analyze proposed budgets. One of the greatest benefits, said Casas, was that the team can help you stay on task and on track, providing key information that counsel can then share with their client.
The webinar discussion then moved on to the topic of to the numbers. It’s important for inside counsel to create clear billing guidelines — as Knight succinctly put it, “What you’ll pay for and what you won’t.” But it’s also important how charges are being submitted, such as billing codes, in order to ensure consistent comparison (“apples to apples”) across matters. The discussion then moved into bidding as Knight shared a real-world bidding example of a reverse auction and its value for inside counsel’s bottom line. This spoke to the point that RFPs, bids and fee arrangements are useful in matching the right type of work with the right pricing and firm. Overall, detailed budgets should be submitted and tracked against and counsel should benchmark and forecast for more certainty in the future. And yet, despite careful planning, a degree of reasonableness is required because anything can happen, especially in litigation.
One of the most certain things about litigation is that it’s going to be uncertain.
–Greg Casas, Shareholder for Greenberg Traurig
The bids and budgeting discussion moved into the budgeting certainty that AFAs can help provide for both sides. Casas estimated that 75 to 80 percent of his firm’s work is done through AFAs. In addition to budgeting certainty, AFAs can be a catalyst for collaboration as they foster trust, accountability and communication. Both panelists agreed that using AFAs requires a high level of trust between counsel. But be prepared, Knight advises, “Collaboration is a lot of hard work!”
The webinar moved on to the specific tactics that can be employed during legal holds, collection and case strategy. For example, within legal holds, creating and providing templates for distribution. Within collection, creating a data systems map and using targeted searches and terms to cull data. And within case strategy, immediately generating a case chronology (ideally in a software system both parties have access to) and making identifying witnesses and experts collaborative.
The webinar came to a close with a discussion on relationship reporting, including after-action reviews of litigations and firm and project scorecards. It’s important to communicate and educate on values that are important to the team. Plus, internally, the documentation of metrics, such as rates and future bid estimates and comparisons, can be helpful for future decisions.