Data mining by a law department consortium

In his July 10 post, discussing a recent American Lawyer article (July 2005), Ron Friedman quoted a passage:
Clients Unite (at p. 22) reports that last year “lawyers from eight major companies that control more than $1 billion in outside counsel legal work – including Microsoft Corporation, General Motors Corporation, and Cisco Systems, Inc. – have been meeting and exchanging information to try to improve the delivery of legal services.”
The article continues with an interesting tidbit: “In late May this coalition took its first step toward a collective purchase when it invited roughly 20 law firms, plus some other companies, to bid to create an online system that human resources departments could use to get automated answers to routine questions…”
Friedman, always thinking beyond, speculates: “… you can easily imagine large law departments sharing e-billing data about the performance of outside counsel. As e-billing grows, the data to evaluate law firm performance becomes more readily available. And the use of this data will be not so much to spot the errant fax charge or impermissible two lawyers at a deposition; rather, it will be … to examine what in law practice works and what does not.”

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