Focus on the Skill Set of Individual Legal Bill Auditors to Avoid Needless Problems with Outside Counsel

If you Google “legal bill review” or “legal bill auditing,” you will get a wide and varied range of vendors from law firms to corporations to consultants – all offering to do legal bill reviews or legal bill audits.  Thus, it might seem that all one has to do is put all the names into a hat and draw one out and let the outsourcing begin!

Prudence, however, dictates a more cautious approach to selecting an outsourced legal bill review vendor.  Just as you do when your select other vendors for your department’s work, you want to do your “due diligence” and make sure that the one you select exactly fits your needs.

Focusing on a vendor whose experience is primarily with insurance companies should cut down the potential list of vendors considerably as many vendors have large corporations as their primary customer base.  Believe me, reviewing legal bills for large corporations and reviewing legal bills for claims related litigation are definitely not the same thing at all.

Focusing on the skill sets of the vendor’s staff that will do the actual legal bill reviews is even more important.  It is no secret that there is a lot of turnover with many vendors’ legal bill review staff.  Many vendors use attorneys fresh law school graduates or are just in between legal jobs.

Using legal bill auditors who are not really experienced insurance defense lawyers can contribute to ill feelings with outside counsel when they take inappropriate deductions.  Also, being low on the learning curve will likely drive down your actual results as they miss taking appropriate deductions.

Besides having an expertise in insurance defense work, the vendor’s legal auditing staff should also have an expertise in legal ethics which most rarely have.  Having an expertise in legal ethics is absolutely vital when it comes to reviewing legal bills.  This is because the ethics of the legal profession overarch and control all aspects of how an attorney must bill for fees and costs.

Having expertise in legal ethics is especially important when it comes to reviewing legal legal bills from “independent” counsel.  Legal bill reviewers at vendors who lack an expertise in legal ethics are often unable to sort out what is truly appropriate to do when a potential ethical issue arises in a fee bill matter.  As a result of a lack of knowledge and expertise, cost savings are often minimal.

In summary, an insurer interested in an outsourced legal bill review vendor should focus on finding a vendor with an insurance customer base and a bill review staff that is both experienced in insurance defense work and has a proven expertise in legal ethics.  Applying these criteria in the search for an outsourced legal bill review vendor should considerably narrow the choices.

[Note:  This is the second of a three part post on outsourcing legal bill reviews.  The first post entitled “Outsourcing Legal Bill Reviews” appeared on July 4.  My third post will focus on the myths and the hypocrisy that attorneys sometimes employ to try and dissuade insurers from outsourcing their legal bill reviews.  As you can tell from some of my previous posts, I just love to dispel myths and expose hypocrisy.]

If you would like to find out about my outsourced legal bill review services, please contact me at jconlon@conlonassociates.com or 317-258-0671.  You can also read the information posted on my website @ http://conlonassociates.com/Outsourcing.aspx

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2 Responses to Focus on the Skill Set of Individual Legal Bill Auditors to Avoid Needless Problems with Outside Counsel

  1. Beth Popik says:

    Excellent post. I agree completely. The experience and skill set of the auditor is paramount to a successful auditing program, and the skill set needs to extend beyond simply auditing the bill(s). The auditor needs to be able to interact with the attorneys, the claims professionals and everyone else who is a part of the chain of legal billing and legal bill review including finance types, IT, senior insurance executives, e-billing vendors, partners and billing clerks at law firms, administrative support staff. Auditing competency, communication skills, a strong legal (and ethical) background and an ability to understand and address the interests and concerns of a multi-level constituency involved in the legal billing process are requirements for a good legal auditor and successful legal auditing program.

  2. […] on outsourcing LBR, see my prior posts, “Outsourcing Legal Bill Reviews” and “Focus on the Skill Set of Individual Legal Auditors to Avoid Needless Problems with Outside Counse….” Share this:EmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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