THE BIG PICTURE
So what can you do?
When analyzing a legal bill, ask how each time entry adds value to:
- the particular work product it produced,
- the phase of the representation, and
- the goal of the representation as a whole.
If the work product is not important to the client’s goal, it doesn’t matter how great the lawyer’s work is.
As a recent example, a law firm charged the client 32.4 hours for drafting a summary judgment motion.
The motion was well reasoned and persuasive. But, before the firm began drafting this masterpiece, the court had entered an order prohibiting any party from filing a motion for summary judgment. The law firm’s work had no value at all to the client, but the firm still expected to be paid.
Analyzing the line item charges on legal bills is no small task.
The analysis itself is 60 percent experience in legal practice, 30 percent psychology, and 10 percent mechanics and mathematics. Unfortunately for many businesses, computers can only assist in the last and smallest category. Then, when the analysis is done, someone has to negotiate with the billing attorney to convince him or her that certain charges are unreasonable and should be removed from the bill.
But there’s hope – even if you don’t have the resources inside your organization, these functions can be outsourced.
Although there are various fee models for legal bill review services, the most client-focused providers will waive their fee if they do not achieve savings for the client. Make sure your outsourced legal bill review provider will analyze every line item of every legal invoice, every month. After all, the devil is in the details when it comes to reducing your organization’s legal spend with outside counsel.