For many years the arrangement was understood — a negotiated hourly rate would cover the assignments from General Counsels at Insurance Companies and other Corporations to their outside lawyers. The seismic shift in legal departments to emphasis on speed, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness has obliterated that status quo, for the most part.
Some outside firms have slowly, glacially, begun to shift to alternative fee arrangements. But as I have written in the past, this shift is not likely enough to keep pace with what in-house legal departments are searching for: the nimble ability to select the right fee arrangement for each and every case which gets assigned to outside firms. Having a single, alternative fee proposal is barely better than the hourly rate concept it replaces.
How can outside lawyers offer more? By letting the clients, the law departments and general counsel we serve pick the arrangement. This can be done either by a.) offering the client a list of several alternative fee options; b.) listening to the client to hear about what they have been using and what they like (that is what good service is all about): or c.) collaborating somewhere between these two approaches to tailor an arrangement that works in a particular case for both the law department and the outside lawyer.
There is no magic to it. It is simply a matter of demanding options from outside lawyers so that clients are comfortable that with cost control over the assignment, and the alignment of the clients interests and outside counsel’s interests.