As we all know, the relationship between in-house counsel and outside counsel is always evolving. In the past decade, we’ve seen changes in billing, including flat-fee and alternative billing arrangements. We’ve seen the explosion of cloud technology onto the scene, through which many law firms have begun providing offering legal hold and other e-discovery services at a fixed cost to their clients.
One thing that’s clear is that the nature of the relationship between inside and outside counsel is forever changing. In-house counsel are more focused on driving efficiency into legal costs than ever before. According to a recent survey from Thomson Reuters, inside counsel are seeking to drive business value into legal services by:
- Requiring project budgets
- Requiring risk assessments and potential resolution strategies early in the case (aka early case assessment)
- Requiring client consent for firm staffing
- Competitive bids for new work
What’s most interesting to me is the first bullet point above – in-house counsel requiring project budgets from the firms and vendors they use to move through litigation projects. It looks as though many legal departments that have not historically made business- and data-driven decisions are seeing a better way. A need for predictability in costing for matters has in fact been one of the driving factors behind a recent explosion of interest in litigation and e-discovery project management.
Project management, often overlooked as a profession for pedants, has some real benefits to offer to attorneys and technicians – and the companies they work for – particularly in the messy realm of electronic discovery. E-discovery project managers and e-discovery project management software together can deliver some serious benefits to corporations’ legal departments and law firms alike.