When I started practicing law more than a quarter century ago, law departments at insurance companies and corporations only cared about one “W” when they engaged outside law firms – the “What.” What results were delivered? What was the outcome? What was the verdict? What deal was negotiated to settle?
The days of the single “W” are long gone, however, and now, General Counsel and the legal departments they shepherd are looking for answers to four W’s (and one H) — who, what, when, why, and how. The outside lawyers and firms which answer all of those questions most to the OGC’s liking are the lawyers and firms who will continue to garner business and new assignments.
Results still matter, of course. But they no longer matter in an absolute vacuum: a good result delivered by overstaffing (who), delivered too late (when), delivered inefficiently or against the client’s larger mission (why, how) will simply not be considered a good result.
Good outside lawyers and firms keep an eye on all of these elements – and strive to provide value from all 360 degrees:
- Legal Project Management (LPM) – including action plan, budgeting, and forecasting;
- Continual analysis, communication, and refinement in a dialogue with the client about changing goals and needs;
- Flexibility, including in agreeing to alternative fee deals at the beginning of a matter, and even to modify the arrangements should circumstances change;
- Demonstrating an understanding of the Legal Department’s goals, the company’s goals which they serve, and attempting to align legal representation with those goals.
- Innovation, helping your client see a need for new models and arrangements before they may see the need.
- Getting to the best result sooner, cheaper, better, and more efficiently.
The modern, outside law firm can survive on providing an excellent What anymore — they must also satisfy the legal departments for whom they work by meeting or exceeding expectations as to Who, Why, When and How as well.