Document The Legal Savings

Most of us are facing uncertainty unlike anything that our generation has ever experienced. This manifests itself in several ways for our clients, many of whom are being told to cut positions and budgets (20% seems to be the "magic" number). Several are being told that they cannot fill vacant positions. Salary freezes are common. And the amount of attention paid to legal cost containment has reached an unprecedented level.

One of the reasons I started Counsel On Call in 2000 was because I felt there was space in the legal profession for great attorneys do what they enjoy -- good legal work -- at low rates, to be able to practice remotely, and provide a more flexible approach to meet the needs of clients. In the best of financial times, there are benefits to this approach; today it is even more relevant.

As our company and the profession has evolved, I have witnessed several in-house colleagues move from simply managing outside counsel -- often at firms where they used to practice -- to the mindset of setting and managing budgets and really scrutinizing the value received for the money spent. We have worked with many of these individuals who now understand how and why the "three-legged stool" -- outside counsel, in-house counsel, and Counsel On Call -- works so well together.

Here is my point: This year, many of our clients -- both in-house and law firm partners -- are being asked to cut even more, regardless of how well they have been doing on this front in recent times. This is making lawyers feel like they have to demonstrate their value like never before.

Understanding those pressures is the first step, and historically we have provided our clients with reports containing various items that enable them to respond to financial concerns, including accurate metrics that can be used in future budgeting. Over the past few months, we have added a few things to the report. One simple addition is that we now include the money spent and saved by working with Counsel On Call. This single step provides our clients the data needed to demonstrate the value they provided to their clients throughout the year or on a particular matter.

As with many matters we already track – whether it’s an attorney’s review rate or determining an accurate amount of time needed for a complex matter – this seems like a very natural and easy step to take. By regularly documenting the cost savings we’re providing in a straightforward manner, hopefully we’re enabling our clients another avenue to objectively demonstrate the value they bring to their company or clients.