Using Legal Bill Review Data to Manage to “Trends”

I once worked with a regional claims manager who invariably reacted to a claims file that had blown up by issuing new procedures to the claims staff.  The new procedures supposedly were tailored to ensure that what happened with that one file would not happen again.

Of course, when another claim file invariably blew up, he again issued new procedures that sometimes were directly contrary to the old procedures.  And, of course, he repeated the process when another claim file blew up.  One of his subordinate managers described his boss’ litigation management style as being like someone who drives down the road going from ditch to ditch. Continue reading

On Being A Very Small Fish in a Very Big Pond

Back when I was working in-house as a regional managing attorney in the company’s staff counsel program, I was tasked by the company’s general counsel to work on a special project.  The project was to fix the company’s legal bill review program and to look for another legal e-billing vendor.

The reason for the second part of the assignment was that the company’s e-billing vendor had become slow or not responsive at all to many technical problems the company had been having with the vendor’s legal e-billing program.

As my company was passing $150 Million in outside law firm billing through the vendor’s e-billing system, I was truly puzzled by the lack of vendor’s response to our needs.  Surely we were a big customer of the e-billing vendor and all vendors take care of their big customers, right?  Well, yes and no.  Yes, vendors do take care of their big customers and no, we were not a big customer – even at $150 Million in annual legal spend.

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Cutting The Ties That Bind (Part III)

[This post is the third in a series of posts on the issues involved with terminating a relationship with an attorney.]

As noted in previous posts on this subject, the reasons for breaking up with an attorney can be many.  Sometimes it is a breakup within the law firm or the retirement of a key partner that has precipitated the decision to move files to another firm.  Or it could be poor communications or even just bad lawyering.

Often times, though, the reason for the decision to move files to another attorney is money. In fact, it may even be a large disputed bill that precipitated the decision to transfer a particular file as well as other files the lawyer has to another lawyer.

Unfortunately, attorneys may have the upper hand (at least for the moment) on this issue on the issue of payment of disputed legal fees before files can be transferred. This is because many states allow attorneys to declare a “retaining” or “charging” lien on all client property they have in their possession to secure payment of their legal bills.

As noted in a prior post, the client’s file is considered as the client’s property – to the extent that the client has paid for the property – and attorneys have an ethical obligation to return all client property upon termination of the relationship.  See RPC 1.16(d).  However, there is a quirk in the law here that tends to favor attorneys and trump the ethics of the profession.   Continue reading