From Legal Project Management (LPM) to the arrival of Legal Operations Officers at Legal Departments, insurers have become far more discerning and discriminating buyers of legal services than ever before. Technology allows for any number of measurements of the performance of outside law firms, and therefore comparison of outside law firms.
Should this data be kept secret? Not if the insurer truly wishes to incentivize outside lawyers become the kind of lawyers the metrics are designed to create in the first place.
There are concerns, of course, about disclosing proprietary data, and information regarding other firms. These issues, however, are easily addressed by 1.) providing metrics outputs to lawyers and law firms, not the methodologies and 2.) showing the outside lawyer or firm how it stacks up against averages, or par, as opposed to providing data on other lawyers or firms.
For an insurer to measure the data and not use it to influence outside lawyers toward the benchmarks the insurer is aiming for is to use but half of the tool.
The metrics themselves are as diverse as the objectives, but some of the more popular ones are:
- Cycle Time – how long a case takes from assignment to closing
- Return on Investment – how much exposure was eliminated or reduced in exchange for payment of legal fees to defend a claim. (This can also be an effective marketing tool for a law firm: I was able to demonstrate to a large national insurer that over the course of several years that for every dollar they invested in legal fees, my firm was able to eliminate six dollars in corporate contingent exposure.)
- Leverage – similar to ROI, a measure of dollars spent in relation to dollars at stake. Designed to prevent lawyers from killing flies with sledgehammers.
- Overall Grade – somewhat subjective, but a great overall metric which allows General Counsel to grade how their outside lawyers are doing
We will delve into metrics in more detail in a future post. In the meantime, remember that what can be measured can be used to steer outside lawyers in the direction the insurer wants to go. Good outside lawyers will neither mind being measured, nor adjusting their performance to suit the insurer’s needs.