“Treat each case as a series of purchasing decisions”

A stark and alarming statement, to be sure, and one that lades outside counsel managers with disagreeable expectations. The quote comes from Bottomline Technologies, a vendor of matter management plus e-billing systems, in an article of ACC Docket, May 2006 at 73. It suggests that law departments should look at lawsuit management and outside counsel retention with a procurement mindset. It privileges bean-counting, numbers over relationships, and a cost-benefit coldness. It hints of a claims-management approach (See my posts on procurement of Feb. 20, 2005; Aug. 14, 2005 about Oracle; April 7, 2006; and April 30, 2006 #5.).

If litigation managers are supposed to consider each step’s cost relative to its likely gain, partnering loses its glow, litigating on principle should never guide you, and impersonal decision analysis should reign supreme. Litigation managers cannot handle as many cases, and must take an accounting view of those that they do handle. On the other hand, perhaps cases will be resolved faster than they now are. Law firms retained for litigation (“purchased commodities”) must likewise think in terms of how much heat they will likely produce for each shilling dropped in the radiator.

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