That law departments intervene all the time in their firm’s internal operations is obvious (See my post of Dec. 21, 2005 with five examples and four references; and July 5, 2006 with six examples and eight references.). What is not obvious is where to draw the line.
This post begins a three-part series on what services law departments should receive from all their law firms in the normal course of dealings. A second post today considers the services a law department has the right to insist on from their primary law firms (Part II) while the series closes with those services law departments should not expect from their law firms because they are over-reaching (Part III). Thus the series moves upwards from modest and acceptable expectations to undeserved impositions that significantly impinge on the management prerogatives of law-firm partners.
Normal-course interventions in how law firms run themselves go beyond fundamentals such as prompt invoices with appropriate information, avoidance of conflicts of interest, best efforts, and other the customary behavior of legal professionals. Many of these standard expectations are enshrined in outside counsel guidelines (See my post of Dec. 17, 2007 on outside counsel guidelines.). Here are a half dozen, but I could probably double or triple the list.
1. Deliver work product electronically (See my post of July 21, 2005.).
2. Present invoices electronically (See my post of Feb. 21, 2007on e-billing vexations of law firms.).
3. Not bill for too many meetings among the lawyers of the firm or with too many people at the meetings (See my post of Nov.1, 2005.).
4. Maintain files and records of the client after the matter closes.
5. Notify the law department of billing-rate increases.
6. Invite inside counsel to attend firm CLE events