For insurance company legal departments, the retention of outside counsel is now done very much in a buyer’s market, perhaps more so than any time in history, and certainly more than any other time in the twenty five years I have practiced law. Tasked by their management teams with delivering better results faster and for less, legal departments have become discerning and discriminating buyers.
Good outside law firms worthy of hiring do not rage against this development — they accept and embrace it, and craft what they offer to fit the needs of the clients they want to continue to serve. If your outside lawyers aren’t offering you the following services regularly, you are probably not taking advantage of the enormous buying power you now enjoy. This buying power entitles you to things like:
- regular courtesy calls from outside counsel to make sure the service they are delivering meets with your expectations of that service, including the billing process;
- seamless access to your outside counsel via phone, email, text messaging so that you do not have to wait either to ask a question or make an assignment;
- several hours per week of no-charge access and client support for quick legal questions, even a request for a minor bit of research or document review (any outside lawyer who does not recognize that this is the least he or she can do for a good client does not appreciate the value of your business).
- regular offers to provide no-cost continuing education your legal departments and claims staff, either via in person lunch and learns, or via webinar, whichever you, not they, prefer.
- regular no-cost updates on significant legal rulings and industry developments, so that you can 1.) stay abreast of the legal landscape at no cost to you; and 2.) ensure that your outside counsel is current as to the same landscape; and
- regular offers to discuss and collaborate on alternative billing programs, so that legal departments can ensure they are getting outside counsel legal services in the most efficient manner possible.
- ‘NO-CHARGE” invoice entries for minor phone calls and emails on simple questions or requests – your outside lawyers should encourage you to contact them, not discourage you.
As we said above, it is a buyers’ market for in-house legal departments. Many outside firms who have enjoyed the comfort of the status quo for decades have been caught unaware, and have not responded to legal climate change . But there are good outside law firms who are none too aware of the sea change in the marketplace, and who are crafting their representation to recognize that fact by providing no-cost extras to their clients.
For more information on providing your legal department the benefits of extra services and client support at no additional cost , reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-731-4800.