How Using Staff Counsel Can Lower Legal Costs

A year ago to the day, I started a blog series on controlling legal costs in claim legal files.  In that blog post, I stated that the only three ways to effectively control legal costs were: establish a dedicated legal bill review unit, train (and effectively monitor) the adjusters who handle litigated claims legal files, or outsource the legal bill review function.  Throughout the course of the past year, I blogged about each one of these options, noting the pros and cons of each.

Recently, a former colleague contacted me to say that I had failed to mention a 4th way to control claims legal costs – establish a staff counsel operation.  Having been one of the primary co-founders of the ABA’s General Committee on Insurance Staff Counsel and its first Vice Chair, all that I can say is, “mea culpa!”

In fact, at the risk of overcorrecting my earlier statement about their only being three ways to control claims legal costs, I would have to say that not only should using staff counsel be considered a fourth way to control claims legal costs, but it should be considered as the most effective way. Continue reading

4th Quarter Legal Bills Should be Closely Scrutinized

It’s been said with good justification that “a lawyer’s pen gets heavier during the fourth quarter.”

Invariably, as the year nears an end, lawyers (and paralegals) scramble to find things to do in their files in order to make their firm’s hourly billing “targets” (i.e., goals) for the year.  I also invariably see more “drop-in” or “transient billers” show up in files during the last two months of the year than at any other time in the year as lawyers and paralegals beg their colleagues for work to do.

You see a lot depends upon meeting law firm billing targets including firm bonuses and partners’ shares of the profits.  It sometimes may also mean whether or not you will have a job for the next year.  Thus, it is no wonder that I have found that more make work projects and task padding also occur during the final two months of a year that at any other time in the year. Continue reading