Finding good as well as economical attorneys can be difficult, but certainly not impossible.
You may think that the term “good, economical attorney ” is an oxymoron. But in my legal bill review work for insurers, I very often see examples of economical attorney who get good results. When I do, I always take the time to call the insuer’s attention to these attorneys. I think that these attorneys should be rewarded with more business.
Finding good, economical attorneys takes more than blind luck. It takes following proven methods that will produce the desired results.
Assuming you can take care of the “good” piece, here are some new twists on the “economical” piece.
- Checking References Everyone has references. The trick is to get past the pre-selected references. Ask to see a list of all their insurance company clients (with key contacts) for the past 5 years. Then, select at least 3 at random and call the contacts. Use a script to ask the same questions of each reference. Be sure to ask about any billing issues, error rates, etc. they have experienced with the attorney.
- Litigation/Billing Guidelines Don’t make the first time that new attorneys see your guidelines is when they are sent their first case. Make your guidelines a part of your upfront discussion. Go over sensitive areas. Make sure there is agreement on the key parts.
- Savings Philosophy Ask what the attorney (and the firm) is doing to save on fees and costs for the clients. How would they go about handling your “typical” cases to achieve both a quality result yet save on fees and costs?
- Sample Invoices Apply the “3-3-3 test.” Ask for copies of 3 invoices (with key information redacted) of at least $3,000 showing 3 different billers in the firm who might bill in your files.
Spending some extra time up front with new lawyers discussing billing issues helps create a “sentinal” effect. It signals to them that you are very serious about keeping legal costs down.
Please contact me if you are interested in developing an RFP program for hiring new attorneys and/or a program to formally measure outside counsel performance.