Simplifying Claims Litigation
A better vision for working with counsel more effectively
In our last installment of CaseGlide Insights, we spoke about how law firms can better position themselves as a “go to” resource for claims leaders by improving communication and reporting, focusing on early resolution, being proactive and creative, and by applying strong planning budgeting strategies. These are all attributes of “Go-To Law Firms” shared by buyers of legal services in the CLM’s 2019 Litigation Management Study.
In this installment of CaseGlide Insights, we’d like to share some thoughts from the 2020 CLM Defense Counsel Study – all designed to enable claims organizations and their law firms to work more effectively with each other.
The areas of potential friction between defense firms and claims organizations are captured quite nicely in these two CLM studies. Broadly stated, they fall into several categories:
- Understanding Business Need
- Billing Issues
- Defining Value
Understanding Business Need
In the 2019 CLM Study, buyers spoke to the fact that they want their law firms to demonstrate a better understanding of claims organizations’ overall business strategies and needs. In other words, they want true business partners, not just attorneys focused on getting the next assignment.
In the 2020 CLM Study, attorneys highlighted, however, that claims organizations might need to do a better job of describing what these big picture objectives and business needs are. In fact they ranked claims organizations with only a 47 (on a scale of 1 to 100) for how well they describe their strategic business needs.
This discrepancy raises several questions. Are the methods for describing overarching strategies and business needs effective? How are they shared with attorneys? Are there town hall meetings? All-counsel communications? And, do the front-line claims personnel (those staff that defense attorneys interact with most frequently) have a good understanding of those objectives?
What, when, and how much they are paid for the legal services provided remains a critical issue for defense firms. This was abundantly clear from the 2020 CLM Study.
Further, more than 75% of defense attorneys stated that they find invoice adjustments to be “very subjective” and many see this as a continual source of friction in the relationship. At the same time though, almost all buyers of legal service readily acknowledge that they are now reviewing invoices for “reasonableness,” an activity that by its very definition is subjective. So perhaps both sides aren’t really speaking past each other as much as there is not a healthy conversation around the process itself.
Both constituencies are also at odds when it comes to issues like “how well” firms are doing with billing guideline compliance. 74% of defense attorneys stated their ability to comply with billing guidelines is better than it was three years ago, whereas only 56% of claims leaders feel compliance has improved.
One revealing outcome from the 2020 CLM Study was that 79% of attorneys feel that they are doing a better job at creating value for their clients when compared to five years ago. Only 48% of the buyers polled in the 2019 Study agree. This is a big gap.
Similarly, when attorneys self-assessed their ability to describe their firm’s value in a competitive and distinctive way, they scored themselves a relatively high 79 on a scale of 1-100. Perhaps disappointingly, however, buyers scored the ability of law firms generally to do this with only a 51 on a scale of 1-100. Again, a big gap!
Perhaps claims executives have heard it all before. Perhaps firms don’t hear enough of their competitors’ pitches to know how similar they are. Or, perhaps firms just aren’t pitching value propositions that resonate with the claims executives that are listening to them. These are all possibilities.
Perhaps no conversation around litigation management happens anymore without the concept of metrics being discussed. In this area too, firms and claims organizations have divergent views of each other’s use of metrics.
On the whole, defense attorneys scored the alignment of the metrics they maintain about their own firm at a 66 on a scale of 1-100. In other words they don’t seem entirely sure that they have the right metrics (assuming that their clients’ metrics are the right ones).
Attorneys score their comfort level with their own metrics at 70 out of 100. They score their frequency of asking clients for the metrics the client has about their firm at a 38 out of 100. They rank the likelihood that the client will give them any metrics about their firm at a 54 out 100. (But they score the information received – when clients do share metrics with them – at an 83 out of 100!).
Conversely, buyers of legal service score their comfort level at a 60 out of 100 (lower than attorneys). A full 96% of them feel that firms don’t ask for metrics enough. More than nine out of 10 (92%) buyers say they’ll happily share metrics with firms if asked to do so.
There is a lot to unpack in those numbers, but at a high level it’s safe to say that more sharing needs to be done to make metrics the cornerstone of a great firm-client relationship.
Collaboration can be an ambiguous concept. Yet we all agree that working collaboratively puts more mind power on the job at hand.
From the perspective of claims organizations, the ability to have claims professionals participate substantively in the process of litigation planning and budget creation is highly desirable. Yet defense attorneys ranked the ability of claims organizations to engage in the evaluation and negotiation of litigation budgets the firms submit to them at a low 23 out of 100.
The Opportunities as We See Them
We at CaseGlide spend a lot of time and effort uncovering and solving friction points between defense firms and their claims litigation organization partners. We are the only litigation management platform with as many testimonials from counsel as we get from in-house executives.
We don’t view the friction points highlighted in these two studies to be anything more than the fact that both groups work in highly inefficient and disparate technology systems. It doesn’t have to be that way.
In our view, the overarching business needs of any claim organization are captured in their desired processes on each file. We support customized workflows that differ by types of cases and by the strategic track a case is placed on. It’s almost like the overall business gets explained on each and every file.
We also know that billing expectations are better addressed upfront rather than retrospectively. Looking at the invoice after the work has been done is less ideal than making sure only the right work is performed in the first place. And while we have a robust electronic billing platform as part of our system, it is intended to address mostly compliance issues, since our workflow tools keep both parties in sync as to what work should be performed and what activities are expected.
In the area of defining value and metrics, we supply a wide range of performance indicators that are readily transparent to counsel and clients alike — promoting a more functional dialogue, shared goals and objectives, and more success for both parties.
Lastly, our unified platform, with both claims professionals and attorneys working side by side, improves communications and fosters greater collaboration, meaning a shared alignment that decreases many of the potential friction points highlighted by the two great CLM Studies.