Maximizing Your Relationship with Outside Counsel
Working better together
It’s a necessary relationship and a critical part of the claims litigation process. You may work with dozens of outside counsel firms or a select few, but hiring and effectively collaborating with defense firms is essential to moving claims efficiently through to an optimal resolution.
Yet there can be tensions in the relationships between claims litigation managers and their outside defense counsel. These tensions can be driven by an atmosphere of distrust, confusion around billing practices, or a complete lack of data regarding performance on both sides. Whatever the underlying cause, it’s pretty clear that any issues arising in this key relationship can negatively affect the goal at hand: closing claims quickly, efficiently and as cost effectively as possible.
According to the recently released 2020 CLM Defense Counsel Study, there are some areas that can benefit from attention pretty quickly. Let’s look at two of them.
How to Improve Your Relationship with Outside Counsel
First, at least from the perspective of defense firms, is billing. Defense attorneys scored both the process for getting paid for the work they performed and being paid in a timely manner a 56 on a “pain scale” of 1 to 100. A full 76% of defense attorney respondents viewed invoice adjustments as being very subjective, and many commented that invoice cuts were arbitrary, highly inconsistent, and damaging to the relationship and end goal of both parties.
Second, we observe a very large gap between how both groups (litigation executives and defense attorneys) judge law firms’ ability to describe the value they provide and how they distinguish themselves from other law firms. Put very simply, litigation executives score firms’ ability to do this well at a 51 out 100; in contrast, associate attorneys score their ability to do this well at an 85 out 100.
Why the huge gap? Perhaps it has to do with the data (or more accurately, the lack of data), being used to quantify value. When asked how they convey their performance to their clients, 74% of defense attorneys said that they provide performance data only “informally”, “sometimes” or “never”. Not surprisingly, litigation executives believe that only one in 10 (11%) of their law firms even maintains good metrics about their performance.
Here’s the bottom line: An invoice review process where one party feels that most adjustments are arbitrary, and performance conversations that are not backed by useful, unbiased metrics, are only going to drive a wedge between payers and their law firms, ultimately reducing overall claims litigation effectiveness.
To address some of these concerns, our customers use our platform’s e-billing functionality to create clear, non-subjective rules to flag invoice line items that fall outside of established ranges. They take the inconsistencies out of the bill review process and provide for open and shareable data that both parties can discuss and resolve quickly. This collaborative way of working through invoicing takes a lot of strain and stress out of an important part of the process, freeing up both teams to do what they do best: close cases.
Similarly, when it comes to attorney and firm performance, we again offer open and sharable data. Our attorney scorecarding functionality clearly shows both parties how attorney performance is tracked against case lifecycle including duration, costs, settlement amounts, and more, to provide an unbiased dashboard for discussion. The data is there for open and honest discussion.
Additionally, that data is available to claims managers to determine who to best assign new cases. That allows them to see clearly who excels at what type of case, what number of assigned cases per attorney maximizes efficacy, putting the right defense assets to work for the right claims.
Working together and sharing the data freely between both parties can significantly improve your relationship with outside counsel, which in turn optimizes overall litigation management program effectiveness. Teams with shared goals work much more effectively and efficiently when relationship tension points are removed. Work to collaborate openly and without bias, and you should experience much greater results.
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