In business, relationships are so important - especially the dynamic partnership that exists between in-house and outside counsel. It’s understandable that something that is perceived as a threat to that relationship can be met with hesitation.
We hear it often when speaking with prospective clients. They say things like “I don’t want to nickel and dime my outside counsel” or “I know I am paying more, but I have a good relationship with them.” While most in-house legal departments have put billing guidelines in place for outside counsel to follow, enforcing compliance along with taking additional steps to measure performance can seem as though it might change the dynamic of the relationship. The fear that many in-house departments have is that this will make outside counsel feel undervalued.
However, this is just a growing pain in the midst of a shifting industry dynamic. While in-house legal departments have been using technology to enforce billing guidelines for quite some time, law firms have begun to implement similar technology in order to deliver on client expectations. When firms level up, by putting technology in place to ensure that they are performing to the best of their ability, they are investing in the long-term relationship. Whether or not in-house counsel is aware, firms are taking these steps. Given the prevalence of outside counsel guidelines, firms are operating with the expectation that in-house legal departments will be measuring their performance. The best firms are shifting focus to ensure that their performance is outshining their competition, motivated by earning more work, achieving a higher score and experiencing the benefits of better efficiency within the firm due to the adoption of best practices mandated by outside counsel guidelines.
When it comes to compliance, having the right technology in place does in fact enhance the relationship between in-house counsel and their law firms through aligned expectations and mutual insight on performance, two indicators that overlay the interest of both parties to sustain a long-term professional relationship based on quality work. Having the ability to better understand performance provides an opportunity for both parties to invest in their long-term relationship by working together to deliver more meaningful results.
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