Big Law isn’t necessarily the Best Law

Will 2018 be the year that GCs break free of their dependency on “safe” law firms as well as align their businesses with the best providers – regardless of cost or size? Legaltech News recently gathered predictions on where the legal industry is headed from those that are looking to disrupt it. Qualmet CEO James Beckett offered his thoughtful analysis on how general counsel might use data to uncover strategic law firm partnerships.

“The widespread availability of meaningful, comparative law firm and lawyer performance data will allow side-by-side comparison of ‘the biggest and the best’ with the little-known up-and-comers. The data will upend the status quo by showing that female law firm partners better understand their customer needs as well as firms that embrace gender diversity deliver greater levels of innovation and strategic advantage for their corporate customers. For the first time, corporations will truly be able to implement pay for performance, and the status quo will be forever altered.”

To some, Beckett’s prediction may seem closer to 2028 than 2018. But the picture he paints of the future is not so distant. How can this be?

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The demand for performance data among buyers of legal services is growing rapidly. What’s driving this demand? More people have recognized the need to get more business value from their law firms. This value goes deeper than billing guidelines, matter management or other basic efficiencies. Currently, 79 percent of departments indicate they provide standard billing as well as management guidelines to their law firms; however, only 60 percent say they routinely enforce the guidelines provided, according to Altman Weil’s 2017 Chief Legal Officer Survey. “When we followed up with a question about which outside counsel management techniques are most effective, the number one response was to enforce these guidelines. To set standards and then to fail to enforce them is an obvious and unnecessary omission and one that should not stand in any law department that is serious about effectively managing law firms,” according to the Altman Weil report.

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Failure to enforce these guidelines speaks to the need for a strong performance management program for outside counsel. Matter management tools can help with the low-hanging fruit of cost savings, but they can’t determine whether or not a law firm delivers in more subjective areas to support the company’s business objectives.

Until recently, it was not possible in the legal world to easily quantify and, more importantly, benchmark the more subjective aspects of law firm performance that are absolutely critical to the effective management of firm and lawyer relationships. But technology has created opportunities to do just that. The arrival of new cloud-based legal tech services ensure that meaningful, comparative outside counsel performance data will now allow general counsel to make side-by-side comparisons of all providers, whether they are entire firms, specific practice groups, individual attorneys or alternative legal services. Data will furthermore level the playing field.

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What else might this valuable data uncover? As Beckett shared, with the creation of a database built on customer evaluations of law firms. As well as lawyers, there is no limit to the possibilities. For example, do the biggest law firms deliver the best outcomes? Do certain partners better understand their clients’ needs? Do firms that embrace diversity deliver greater levels of innovation and strategic advantage for their corporate customers?

About Qualmet

Qualmet is a cloud-based SaaS provider. Offering customers a single sign-on platform to objectively as well as easily evaluate the quality of service. Services provided by their outside counsel as well as alternative legal service providers. Many of the world’s largest law firms and corporate law departments collaborated in the development of Qualmet. The Qualmet tool uniquely positions users to quickly as well as easily measure the value delivered by their service providers. By coupling industry-aligned evaluation as well as legal metrics with objective benchmarking capabilities, Qualmet helps customers define and drive meaningful cost savings as well as value in their organizations. Qualmet’s searchable database of evaluated service providers ranked based on objective metrics is the first of its kind in the legal industry. Know Where You Stand™. Let Qualmet help you drive sustainable and meaningful value for your organization. Follow us on Facebook for updates.

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