Sunday, August 14, 2016

Surprise Sunday Shark Bite : One More on OCGs...

Toby Brown, Chief Practice Management Officer at Perkins Coie, touches on one of the most fascinating issues tied to OCGs in my mind – the question of client/firm relationship and trust.

(It's an angle to this issue that recently came up in as part of a stimulating conversation on OCGs I recently had with an old friend and expert. More detail on that dialogue soon...)

In the meantime, read Toby’s thoughts in: "Outside Counsel Guidelines: Navigating the Changing Landscape of Client Demands" --
  • "First, an observation: From reading many of these documents, the overall evolution of OCGs seems to reflect a growing chasm between clients and law firms. The documents go to great lengths to describe and list restrictions on what clients will not pay for, how rate increases will be handled, and even describing acceptable language for time entries. This reflects a presumed relationship of mistrust. Having to go to such lengths demonstrates that clients, on some level, feel that law firms are not being fair with them. So, in order to bring back a perception of fairness, in-house departments are creating these rules in an attempt to level this playing field again."
  • "The growing complexity of OCGs demonstrates a need for firms to better monitor the terms of each OCG. This evolution has made OCGs effectively contracts, requiring law firms to manage them that way. Firms will need defined processes and new technologies to stay on top of this need."
  • "Overall we can expect the flood of OCGs to continue. Law firms should be committing resources to capturing the content of these documents and making it accessible and actionable so that firms stay on top of their client demands. Hopefully in the long run, clients and law firms will find a more productive way to rebuild any broken trust. But in the meantime, OCGs present a growing challenge for both firms and the clients who write them."

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