Don’t over-burden budgets with details and force invoices to match that level of detail

Through ACC, the prolific Rob Thomas, Vice President, Strategic Development for Serengeti Law, recently published his “Top 10 Methods To Manage Outside Counsel.” Thomas cites approvingly from the infamous audit report that excoriated Amtrak’s legal department and in his seventh method instructs law departments to obtain project budgets and track bills against them.

With that much I agree, as to major matters (See my post of Nov. 15, 2005 for a definition of major litigation matters.) and as to invoices showing how amounts billed to date match up against budget projections. What I don’t agree with is the burdensome additional recommendation: “To facilitate the tracking of spending against the budget, budgets should be broken down by phase, major activity, or time. Then, as bills are received they can be compared with corresponding budget categories to quickly note projects that may be getting off track.”

The final requirement exacts too much time and expects too much process, both long after the fact.

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