Why Corporate Lawyers are From Mars and Claims Managers are From Earth

A few years ago, I attended a seminar presentation sponsored by the Corporate Counsel Section of my state bar association.  The presentation was on “controlling outside legal expense.”  The three presenters were all in-house corporate attorneys with impressive credentials.  I could tell that their credentials were impressive by way they preened themselves as their pedigrees were shared with the audience by session moderator.

After their prepared remarks on what their companies were doing (in a macro sense) to control outside legal expenses, they opened it up to the audience to take questions.  The first question out of the box was from an audience member who asked a practical question about what corporate lawyers see on an every day basis, “My law firms are constantly running people in and out of my files.  How do you tell when enough people are already working in a file or when new people are needed?”

As I looked away from the questioner, I thought to myself, “what a softball question! The panel will probably hit this one out of the ball park.”  But when I looked up at the panel, I saw three blank stares.   Actually it was more of a “deer in the headlights” look. Continue reading

On “Zealousness” and “Reasonableness”

I continue to hear or read about attorneys who cite to an ethical duty of “zealousness” in their representation of clients.  An article in the July 2011 issue of Corporate Counsel magazine entitled “Crossing the Line” is about an in-house lawyer who supposedly got into trouble for just being a “zealous advocate.”  In fact, the article begins with the declaration that “Lawyers are supposed to be zealous advocates.”

That all lawyers have an ethical duty to be zealous advocates is just something that everyone knows to be factually correct.  Right?  Well, not really. Continue reading

Outsourcing Legal Bill Reviews

In January, I started a series of posts on the three alternatives insurers have to take to control claims legal expense.  In fact, I noted that these three alternatives are the only realistic ones an insurer has to control outside legal costs.

To recap briefly, my January 11 post was about establishing an in-house Legal Bill Review Unit (LBRU).  Most larger insurers have LBRUs.  The second alternative, training the claims staff to do legal bill reviews, I wrote about in a two-part post on March 15 and April 29.  As noted in these posts, for a variety of reasons, this is really not a viable alternative unless the staff to be trained is small.

I now come to the third alternative to saving on outside legal costs – outsourcing the legal bill reviews.  In considering this altnerative over just allowing the file handlers to do the legal bill reviews, there are a number of issues that come into play.  In this post, I will focus on what I consider to be the three principle issues: relationships, consistency, and time. Continue reading