Benefits from convergence beyond cost savings and administrative ease

An article by Michael Ross in GC Mid-Atlantic (Feb. 2005 at pg. 11) described what some law departments have obtained from the law firms that survived a convergence culling.  He cites corporate law departments that have negotiated for “reports on legislative and regulatory developments, periodic revisions to forms and manuals, and in-house training, at no additional cost.”  I suspect that firms could also contribute to a law department’s intranet site.

Besides this, what caught my attention was the article’s statement that one firm relocated its team serving the client to less-expensive office space (separate from the rest of the firm) so that it could make the deal work economically.  It seems inevitable that the associates and paralegals working on that team will feel ghettoized, not a part of the firm, off the main track.  So be it, but a law firm probably needs to think of different staffing and management models for fixed-fee arrangements or volume work. The firm, and the law department, should consider the longer term talent management implications of how they treat people who work under a different economic arrangement.  I suspect that over time, quality will decline in the isolated group.

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