Monday, February 29, 2016

Moving Right Along (Concerning Lateral Lawyer and Passing Paralegal Conflicts)




"Recent Opinion Clarifies Conflicts in Lateral Hires" --
  • “Players in the Texas legal job market might breathe a sigh of relief after reading a recent appellate opinion. The case answers a basic question that bothers law firms that hire laterals: What happens if the new hire is conflicted out of representing a client because his old law firm represented an adverse party? Law firms worry about disqualification.”
  • “The Thirteenth Court of Appeals in In Re National Lloyds Insurance Co. embraced a precedent from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and ruled that it would not disqualify an attorney who previously worked at a big law firm that represented an insurance company, but later moved to a smaller firm and represented a plaintiff against the insurer. The lawyer did not have a conflict of interest because at her old firm she didn't personally represent the insurer, handle any of its matters or receive confidential information about it.”
  • “Disqualification is a severe remedy, noted the opinion by Thirteenth Court Justice Gregory T. Perkes. National Lloyds alleged a prior client conflict under the disciplinary rules. The rules give guidelines about determining disqualification. Among other things, they say a lawyer who personally represented a client before can't represent an adverse party later.”
"Be Aware of Possible Conflict of Interest When Hiring Paralegals" --
  • “According to Forbes magazine, the average person changes jobs 10 to 15 times (with an average of 12 job changes) during the course of their career. With all of this employment mobility, chances are good that a staff member may apply for a job with your firm after having been employed by opposing counsel on cases or transactions that your firm is handling. If the new hire is a paralegal (or other nonlawyer), can he or she bring with him or her a conflict of interest that may be imputed to your firm? It’s possible and it’s something that hiring partners and paralegals need to be aware of before a conflict of interest arises.”
  • “The American Bar Association’s Model Guidelines for the Utilization of Paralegal Services generally require lawyers to ‘instruct clearly and to take reasonable steps to ensure that paralegals preserve client confidences.’ Beyond this, there is an added duty placed on law firm management to establish internal policies and procedures designed to provide reasonable assurance that paralegals in the firm act in a way compatible with the relevant rules of professional conduct.”
  • “The National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) and the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) both have codes of professional ethics that bind member paralegals. With respect to preserving client confidences, the requirements of these codes are similar to those of the model rules. However, paralegals are not required by states or the firms themselves to belong to these professional organizations in order to work for a law firm, and therefore may not even be aware of these rules. The ethical rules only apply to certified paralegals and do not apply to secretaries, law clerks, or other legal assistants. The limited scope of application greatly diminishes the probability that using these codes as the primary method of conflict screening would suffice to screen for client conflicts.”
See the full article for detail about screening requirements and relevant caselaw.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Caution on Clients, Conflicts and Complexities




An excellent article from several lawyers at Dentons: “Casual Advice Can Be Binding: Whoops – Legal Malpractice Prevention
  • “The economic pressures of the modern legal practice have pushed many attorneys to accept engagements close to the line between permissible and impermissible conflicts of interest. Some law practices assume that, if the anticipated fee is large enough, the conflict must be resolvable. Unfortunately, when such representations turn sour, the law firm or its insurer typically faces a payment to the former client.”
  • Effective practice management involves clearly articulated file-opening procedures that include both client intake and the resolution of potential conflicts of interest. The most effective practice procedures begin with the important step of properly identifying the client.”
  • “Contrary to popular belief, not every attorney–client relationship begins with a prospective client who walks in the door and asks an attorney for legal services. Instead, attorney–client relationships can be implied from the facts and circumstances surrounding a pattern of communication between an attorney and someone else. In today’s Internet world, these kinds of implied representations are becoming more and more frequent. Often they begin with a legal question about a particular circumstance. Other times, they start with an actual solicitation for legal advice.”
  • “Theoretically, identifying clients prior to the rendition of legal services and strictly adhering to the law practice’s intake rules should be sufficient to avoid a conflict of interest. The tough part for some attorneys, however, is the degree to which a single representation may involve more than a single client. When that happens, the matter is a multiple representation requiring all of the associated conflict resolution procedures.”
  • “A good example of this involves representations in probate matters. One person may ask the attorney to represent the executor, estate, and beneficiary of an estate simultaneously. Or an attorney may be asked to represent both the president of a closely held corporation and the corporation itself. In each situation, it might appear that all the potential clients are, in reality, a single person. Yet, for purposes of the conflict of interest resolution procedures, each separate capacity and each separate entity is a separate client.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Risky Relationships (Or the Proximity to Hemp and Hailstorms Update)



Several interesting (and potentially curious) updates touching on changing relationships (and associated conflicts concerns). First: "Sen. Leach Takes Of Counsel Position At Philadelphia Firm" --
  • "A Pennsylvania state senator who has taken a leading role in medical marijuana legislation is planning to re-enter the private practice of law at a firm that has lobbied for medical cannabis legalization."
  • "Sacks Weston is a nine-attorney firm that focuses on class actions and qui tam cases, complex litigation, election law, medical marijuana and hemp law, personal injury and insurance subrogation."
  • "In terms of potential conflicts, [Managing Partner] Sacks said, those are largely avoided by Leach's status as an of counsel attorney instead of a partner. Additionally, he said, Leach would not be assigned to an issue that he would later vote on as a senator."
  • "'If there's ever a conflict between potential work of the firm and my obligations as a state legislator, the legislator part comes first,' Leach said. 'I don't see any inherent conflicts right now.'"
(I confess to raising an eyebrow.) Next, the promised hailstorm, via Bill Freivogel: In re Nat’l Lloyds Ins. Co., 2016 WL 552112 (Tex. App. Feb. 10, 2016) --
  • "Law Firm 1 represents InsCo in hail storm litigation. Lawyer formerly worked at Law Firm 1 during that litigation. Lawyer had nothing to do with hail storm litigation while at Firm 1 and learned nothing about InsCo or that litigation. Lawyer left Firm 1 and joined Law Firm 2, which represented claimants against InsCo in hail storm litigation. Firm 2 put Lawyer to work on those cases. InsCo moved to disqualify Lawyer and Law Firm 2 in this hail storm case. The trial court denied the motion. In this opinion the appellate court affirmed (denied mandamus)."
And, also via Bill, a screen that just didn't feel right to someone: Ontario v. Chartis Ins. Co. of Can., 2016 ONSC 43 (CanLII) (Ont. Super. Ct., Div. Ct. Feb. 11, 2016) --
  • "Lawyer, while at Law Firm 1, spent considerable time on this case on behalf of Ontario. Lawyer moved to Law Firm 2, which represents InsCo. against Ontario. Law Firm 2 erected a screen, and Lawyer was not assigned this case. Lawyer is spending about half his time working with lawyers who are working on this case. Ontario moved to disqualify Law Firm 2. The Motion Judge denied the motion. In this opinion the Divisional Court granted the appeal. On the facts, the court was of the view that, notwithstanding a screen, Lawyer’s proximity to those working on this case was 'too close for comfort.'"

Monday, February 22, 2016

On Managing Malpratice Liability (and Our Last Risk Survey Reminder...)



Our friends at Paragon have recently published an update worth noting, an article from Gilda T. Russell, noted risk expert: "Risk Management and Potential Malpractice Liability to Third Parties" --
  • "A growing concern for law firm risk management is potential malpractice liability to third parties.  Historically, a firm could be potentially liable only to 'clients' for claimed malpractice.  Clients are those persons or entities with whom a firm has an express attorney‐client relationship or one that can be implied from the circumstances.  However, over the years, a number of jurisdictions have allowed claims against firms by non‐client third parties in certain limited circumstances. While it may be difficult to prevent claims in this area, some measures firms can employ in an attempt to reduce risk are briefly discussed below."
  • "A firm must be clear at the outset of a representation, as well as throughout its duration, who is and who is not the client.  The best way to demonstrate an express attorney‐client relationship is through an Engagement Letter."
  • "Consequently, one way in which a firm can insure against third party malpractice claims based on allegations of an express or implied attorney client‐relationship is through the use of a Declined Client Letter or a 'You Are Not Our Client Letter.'"
  • "At the end of a representation, a firm should send the client a Disengagement Letter.  The Disengagement Letter should state that the matter has been concluded and the firm’s representation of the client completed."
  • "Even if a third party is neither an express or implied client of a firm, certain circumstances can give rise to a firm owing a duty to the third party and potential malpractice liability depending on the jurisdiction.  It is important for firm lawyers to have an awareness of these circumstances and how to minimize the risk of liability when dealing with them."
Today, on this very theme, the never to be misunderestimated Bill Freivogel flagged: Lahn v. Vaisbort, 2016 WL 641115 (Ore. App. Feb. 18, 2016) --
  • "Lawyer represented Borrower in a loan transaction. One of loan documents provided clearly and unambiguously that Lawyer, who was preparing the loan documents, was representing only Borrower. The document went on to urge Lender to seek other counsel. When things went bad, Lender sued Lawyer for malpractice. Both the trial court and appellate court, in this opinion, found against Lender, thus showing the value of documents stating expressly who is, and who is not, a client. The courts also dealt with securities law issues probably not relevant to this audience."

Conveniently, we've included questions about engagement letters in the risk survey still underway. Looking forward to an update regarding how well practice is aligning with theory in real-world environments.

For those that missed it, the participation window for the 2016 Law Firm Risk Surveys remains open for a few short days (closing end of week). I'm informed that nearly 200 firms have participated, so there are sure to be intriguing results to review.


And, as also noted, reports will be provided only to those organizations that participate or attend the upcoming Inception user conference. (More detail on the exciting risk-focused content at the conference coming soon...)

So law firm readers, check you brimming inboxes for links to the survey, or email info@riskroundtable.com for help. Don't risk missing out...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Law Firm Conflicts with Clients (and Vice-Versa)



We've been tracking conflicts news tied to 3M since 2012. Now comes: "3M Loses Bid to Disqualify Law Firm It Accused of 'Betrayal'"--
  • "The 3M Co. has long argued that one if its former law firms, Covington & Burling, committed a 'betrayal' by filing an environmental lawsuit against it on behalf of another client. Covington got some good news on Friday, when a judge refused to disqualify it from the environmental suit, a case Covington has poured years of effort into on a contingent fee basis. 3M’s lawyers are also cheering the ruling, however, seizing on a finding by the judge that Covington did, in fact, violate an ethics rule."
  • "In a 36-page decision, Judge John McShane in Hennepin County, Minnesota, ruled that the environmental case is 'substantially similar' to earlier regulatory work Covington did for 3M. Based on that finding, the judge ruled that Covington had a conflict of interest and violated an ethics rule relating to duties owed to former clients."
  • "But the judge’s analysis didn’t stop there. After reviewing emails exchanged by 3M in-house lawyers, which were recently produced in discovery, the judge found that 3M waived its right to object to the conflict. Indeed, the judge wrote that 3M made a 'tactical decision' not to seek disqualification earlier."
  • "The emails produced in discovery bolstered Covington’s waiver argument, McShane wrote in Friday’s opinion. The internal 3M emails show that company lawyers debated whether to seek disqualification of Covington early in the environmental case. In one email, an in-house lawyer at 3M wrote that the company had '[run] the traps on Covington and will not seek to disqualify the firm.' The same lawyer later wrote that Covington’s earlier work for 3M 'was remote in time and only tangentially related.'"
And via Hinshaw comes: "Client Agreement and Failure to Terminate Representation Under the Terms of Client Agreement Results in Firm's Disqualification Under Concurrent Representation Rule" --
  • M'Guinness v. Johnson, 2015 WL 9583486 (Cal. App. Dec. 30, 2015)
  • "In 2013, three shareholders sued: (1) each other for breach of fiduciary duties; and (2) their company for involuntary dissolution. The law firm that represented one of the shareholders had been retained by the company in 2006 as corporate counsel. The Sixth District for the California Court of Appeal held that the law firm's representation of one shareholder against the company constituted concurrent representation of adverse clients, which was a conflict of interest mandating disqualification. The court also held that disqualification "is not generally disfavored," meaning that there is no presumption or policy in favor of permitting the representation to go forward."
  • "This case highlights the importance of engagement agreements as the defining structure for the representation. A lawyer's eagerness to be a "jack of all trades" for a single client may be good for business. But it can also expand the scope of duties owed to the client and thus the lawyer's malpractice exposure. Or, as in this case, it can lead to conflicts of interest and disqualification. The best practice is to be honest and clear in the engagement letter about the scope of the representation, including the method of termination, and abide by those terms."

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Client Risks: Evaluation, Selection, Conflicts and More



The Law for Lawyers Today calls out a 60 Minutes "sting-style" story on law firm client evaluation which made news a few weeks ago: "60 Minutes segment shows ethics issues in client representation" --
  • "The set-up:  Potential client calls you on the phone.  He says he is representing a government minister from a mineral-rich West African nation — he won’t say which one.  But his (unnamed) principal needs legal help in order to move millions of dollars into the U.S. — consisting of what the representative candidly describes as “tainted money” and “gray money;” actually, bribes the government minister has received in exchange for grants of mineral rights. Do you take the bait and schedule a meeting to discuss representing the client?  Do you accept an engagement?"
  • "That, in fact, was the set-up for the 60 Minutes segment on money-laundering and the U.S. legal system on January 31; you can watch it here. Of course, the “representative” of the unnamed West Africa government official was in fact an imposter who was working with Global Witness, a British-based public advocacy group.  But shockingly, 13 law firms scheduled meetings with the supposed client to discuss representing his anonymous principal.  That was out of 50 firms the imposter called."
  • "I don’t think that 75 percent is anything to brag about, necessarily.  Lawyers need to be far more responsive to the big red flags that were abundant in the fake scenario portrayed in the videos:  unnamed African countries, anonymous principals, and above all, money that was candidly described as 'tainted.'"
The ABA took series issue:"ABA President Paulette Brown responds to '60 Minutes' segment" --
  • "The ABA’s positions were grossly misrepresented in the segment.  The association is committed to the elimination of money laundering and has worked diligently with federal and state governments, international law enforcement agencies, and state and local bars to find the best ways to achieve this goal."
  • "In 2002 the ABA created a Task Force on Gatekeeper Regulation and the Profession, to specifically look at money laundering, enforcement and the attorney-client relationship; to review association policy and the relevant Model Rules of Professional Conduct; and make recommendations regarding new policy and programs. This remains an active Task Force."
  • "The “60 Minutes” segment showed only initial meetings, the first stage of a process.  It did not even involve the potential client’s name or country of origin."
Next, via Donald Best in Canada: "When big law firm lawyers won’t say ‘No’ to unethical demands from major clients" -- "Canadian Bar Association’s Ethics Forum underlines why ordinary citizens should involve themselves in the discussion. Legal Ethics are too important to be left to the legal profession alone."

Monday, February 15, 2016

Upcoming Webinar: On Managing Client Terms of Busines


 
Intapp is hosting a webinar for firms looking to more effectively and efficiently manage client terms of business.

This is a critical risk issue we've covered several times. (Probably most colorfully in noting a talk by a former law firm GC who described onerous client guidelines as "Bombs Waiting in Our Files")

Session Details
With clients issuing increasingly stringent guidelines, it’s critical that firms take their compliance responsibilities seriously. This simple fact is the bedrock of the client-firm relationship – and a key ingredient to delivering client success.

But keeping up with every rule and condition across multiple clients and matters can create significant overhead for lawyers and staff — which translates to real risk.
 
 Webinar: Intapp Open: Terms of Business Management
  • Date: Tuesday, March 8th
  • Time: 9 am PST / 12 pm EST
  • Registration: Limited to select firms. Please email Crystal Odegard for more information.
Intapp Innovation
Intapp Open now provides a structured approach for storing, indexing and enforcing client mandates and other firm requirements, including outside counsel guidelines, engagement letters, and other internal requirements and standards. These capabilities are available integrated with the Intapp Open for business acceptance (intake + conflicts), or as a standalone product.

Pat Archbold, head of Intapp’s risk practice, and Grace Camoglu, Senior Product Manager will provide an introduction to Intapp Open for terms of business management and discuss how firms are using the software to achieve their strategic goals.


Webinar Agenda:
 
Key Challenges
  • Centralization and management of client obligations
  • Visibility and cross-functional access to client terms
  • Terms enforcement
Product Features
  • Capture and categorize client terms
  • Provide transparency and accessibility
  • Enforce requirements during matter execution
  • Integrate with key firm systems
  • Report on and analyze client commitments
Benefits of Enhanced Terms Management
  • Effectively comply with client rules
  • Deliver a superior client service experience
  • Retain and expand business relationships
  • Improve profitability
  • Gain a competitive advantage
 
Attendance is limited to select firms. Please email Crystal Odegard for more information.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

HIPAA Has Legs: Are Firms Really Ready?



We've covered the new HIPAA rules for some time, including a recent note a few weeks ago about one firm trumpeting their compliance leadership position in this space. New updates: "2016 HIPAA Audits to Begin: Are you Confident in Your HIPAA Compliance?" --

  • "Beginning early this year, the Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) within the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) will begin performing random desk and on-site audits of not only covered entities (e.g., physicians, hospitals, laboratories, etc.) but also of business associates (e.g., persons or organizations that perform functions on behalf of covered entities, such as data hosting companies, law firms, etc.). These audits are expected to focus on areas of noncompliance that OCR has witnessed in its previous audits and enforcement actions, such as risk analyses and use of encryption technology."
 "Many Law Firms Lack Adequate HIPAA-Related Cybersecurity Standards: Survey" --

  •  "A large percentage of law firms appear to have insufficient security measures in place to ensure compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), a recent survey reveals. According to the Legal Workspace survey, only 13 percent of the 240 law firms questioned have relevant technology and processes to conform with HIPAA compliance."
  • "'The lack of HIPAA compliance is glaring and troublesome, but the bigger picture concern is the absence of a heightened level of cybersecurity,' Joe Kelly, founder and CEO of Legal Workspace, told Legaltech News. 'For an industry that is traditionally hyper-concerned with protecting client information, legal is clearly not keeping up with business standards regarding technology and security. Law firms are now walking targets for hackers, known for being the weak links for access to sensitive information from Social Security numbers to closing papers to information on acquisitions... If you own a law firm and think you are complying with HIPAA, I would urge you to re-examine your technology and cyber-security protocols. You may be surprised at the results.'"
  • "Legal Workplace also pointed out that under HIPAA and other laws, attorneys are considered business associates if they handle any work that involves “protected health information” for covered entities under HIPAA. Protected health information includes medical history or records, laboratory results and insurance information. The designation of business associate carries certain obligations and compliance measures. There are penalties when standards are not met."

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

REMINDER: Risk Survey Deadline Looming


 
For those interested in receiving copies of the 2016 Law Firm Risk Survey reports (when available), please take note of this reminder (and the invitations in your inbox).

The survey will be open for one more week. (The final report will be reviewed live at Intapp Inception 2016, which will feature a dedicated, day-long Risk Roundtable track. But copies are promised only to those who participate...)

Background:
Once again, we're running four separate exercises, inviting risk and IT stakeholders at participating mid-sized and large firms in each of four geographies – US, UK, Canada and Australia.
The survey should only take about 30 minutes to complete and participants will receive a copy of the final results. The report will provide valuable insight into industry trends, top firm concerns, and how organizations are evolving risk response strategies in response to a number of factors.

Survey Topic Areas Include:
  • Risk Policies & Priorities
  • New Business Evaluation, Intake & Terms
  • Conflicts Management
  • Information Security
  • International Issues
  • Emerging Issues
If you didn't receive a direct invitation and would like to participate, please email: info@riskroundtable.com.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Commerce, Conflicts, Collections & More



Money and related risk matters making news. First, fascinating developments for those following the public listing of law firms in Australia: "High Court judge warns of conflicts facing listed law firms" --
  • "When a High Court judge this week raised concerns about the pitfalls of the profit motive at publicly listed law firms he cut to the heart of the financial difficulties facing Slater and Gordon and Shine Corporate."
  • "It was a timely intervention by Justice Geoffrey Nettle because it is clear that the accounting rules and complexities associated with a public listing of a law firm can ultimately work against the interests of clients."
  • "He said he was concerned about the additional pressures that are brought to bear on lawyers working for public companies. He highlighted the inherent conflicts of interest between acting for clients and for shareholders."
  • "However, the 80 to 90 per cent collapse in the share prices of Slaters and Shine have left both firms facing uncertain futures."
  • "Shareholders come last which means that when there is a choice between the duty to the client and the interests of shareholders the client will come first. If that means a loss for the shareholders, then so be it. Slater made clear in its prospectus in 2007 that it was bound by the professional hierarchy of the legal profession."
  • "A company spokesperson said that the effect of these obligations mean that 'any person who invests or provides debt financing in Slater and Gordon does so on the basis that they understand this hierarchy and the importance that we place on our professional obligations.'"
via the Recorder: "Sheppard Mullin Ordered to Refund Client Due to Undisclosed Conflict" --
  • "A California appellate court ruled against Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton on Friday, finding that the firm isn't due fees for litigation where it was disqualified because of a client conflict and must refund payments to its former client."
  • "J-M, the world's largest maker of PVC pipe, hired Sheppard Mullin in 2010 to defend it in qui tam litigation involving more than $1 billion in claims related to allegedly substandard pipe the company provided to local, state and federal government entities. When it was hired, Sheppard Mullin failed to disclose that it had handled labor and employment work for South Tahoe, one of the municipalities involved in the qui tam lawsuit."
  • "Although an internal firm conflict check flagged the issue, J-M wasn't informed about the potential conflict until after South Tahoe sought to disqualify Sheppard Mullin from the qui tam suit. A federal judge granted South Tahoe's motion to disqualify in July 2011. By that time, the firm had billed J-M nearly $3.8 million for about 10,000 hours of work done over 16 months, work that included an extensive internal investigation at J-M."
  • "Friday's ruling remanded the case to determine just when the conflict arose in Sheppard Mullin's representation and how much J-M is due."
  • "Ralph Richardson, spokesman for Sheppard Mullin, wrote in an emailed statement that the firm disagreed with 'the court's analysis of both the facts and the scope of judicial review.'"
On the flip side: "Texas Bar Committee OKs Collection Agencies For Fees" --
  • "Using a collection agency to pursue clients who are delinquent in paying their fees doesn’t violate Texas attorneys’ ethical duty to keep client information confidential, according to a recent Texas ethics opinion, though lawyers can’t report their clients to a credit bureau."
  • "The Professional Ethics Committee for the State Bar of Texas said Opinions 495 and 556 have long held that lawyers can’t share confidential information to a collection agency without the client’s consent, but that this view is at odds with almost every other jurisdiction that has considered the issue."
  • " The lawyer can no longer be handling the matter from which the unpaid fees arose, can’t charge an unconscionable fee, and must first attempt other reasonable means of collecting the fee, including at least one demand letter, before resorting to a collection agency, the committee said."

Monday, February 8, 2016

Trends: Client Concerns + Client Pressures + RFPs = Firm Risk & Response



Two interesting stories via BNA share two sides of the coin on client success with consideration (in the context of risk management and beyond). First: "Companies Pressure Law Firms With Procurement Process" --
  • "As in-house legal departments look to cut costs and reduce inefficiencies, a process through which law firms submit competitive bids for providing legal services is becoming more mainstream."
  • Request for Proposals (RFPs) — a process more commonly associated with the procurement of other services — hit a 15-year high in 2015 in the legal industry. "According to a BTI Consulting Group survey that was discussed in a Jan. 27 blog post, more than half (56 percent) of corporate counsel respondents said they issued such a request last year."
  • "One company that is using the RFP process for some of its legal work is Staples Inc. In a recent interview, Stephanie Shores Lambert, Staples vice president and associate general counsel, told Bloomberg BNA that she is trying to push the use of RFPs within her company. 'For commodity work that can be done by almost every law firm, why shouldn’t in-house counsel take advantage of the opportunity to compare law firms and find one based on your criteria as opposed to the law firm’s view of what you might need?' Lambert said."
  • "In addition to cutting costs, the increased use of RFPs may also be a response to a growing disconnect between law firms and their clients, some observers say. 'Clients are using more RFPs because client service from law firms is down substantially,' BTI Consulting President Michael Rynowecer told Bloomberg BNA... The consultant observed that in 2015, only one-third of in-house attorneys said they would recommend their primary law firm to corporate counsel peers, down from 41 percent a year ago."
  • "If the RFP trend continues, Rynowecer warned that law firms face the prospect of losing out on work. “This trend invites competitors into a law firm’s client base,” he said. The consultant suggested that law firms improve their client services, which would make them less inclined to move to the RFP process. 'The chances of winning an RFP are between 12 and 15 percent, so the failure to improve client service costs real money,' Rynowecer said."
But, on the flip side, clients wield enormous power to drive change many are eager to advocate for within their own firms, as outlined in an op-ed: "Perspective: GCs Hold the Keys to Innovation" --
  • "General counsel are now firmly in control of change in the legal profession. Although they began driving change in the late 1990’s by incorporating technology, data, and metrics into their workflow, the 'Great Recession' planted them ever more firmly into the driver’s seat as the demand to cut costs intensified."
  • "But the measures, tools, and practices put in place as the economy languished have now become the new normal. The practice of law has forever changed, with legal technology and outsourcing companies emerging from the shadows to become a mainstay of the legal industry."
  • "As they increasingly play a multi-faceted role at their companies as strategists and business leaders, they should consider the latest legal technologies, innovations and processes that can drive such incremental change. The array of innovative possibilities is broad, from contract management tools, platforms, and processes, to actively using technology-assisted review in e-Discovery, to centralized dashboards and databases that will help them monitor their matters, gain insight into legal spend, provide outside counsel oversight, and house legal research."
  • "Absent external pressures, legal wheels tend to turn when the subpoena comes in the door and there’s an urgency to act — not the perfect time to consider new options. The GC, however, faced with a blizzard of legal matters on similar issues, can take a more purposeful approach to evaluating solutions."
  • "General counsel can, with measured steps, pave the way to innovation, best accomplished in partnership with the firms they partner with. If they seize the opportunity to foster proactive and deliberate changes through a thoughtful process — now, while the going is easier — they can avoid the pain and pressure they may face when it’s not."

Monday, February 1, 2016

2016 Law Firm Risk Surveys Now Underway


 
We're pleased to kick off the 2016 Law Firm Risk Survey program.

Once again, we're running four separate exercises, inviting risk and IT stakeholders at participating mid-sized and large firms in each of four geographies – US, UK, Canada and Australia.
The survey should only take about 30 minutes to complete and participants will receive a copy of the final results. The report will provide valuable insight into industry trends, top firm concerns, and how organizations are evolving risk response strategies in response to a number of factors.

Survey Topic Areas Include:
  • Risk Policies & Priorities
  • New Business Evaluation, Intake & Terms
  • Conflicts Management
  • Information Security
  • International Issues
  • Emerging Issues
As with past surveys, all who participate will receive a copy of the final published report.

Invitations are going out this week. Please watch your inbox.

The survey will be open for the next two weeks. (And the final report will be reviewed live at Intapp Inception 2016, which will feature a dedicated, day-long Risk Roundtable track.)

If you haven't yet received a direct invitation and would like to participate, please email: info@riskroundtable.com.