Eleven blunt suggestions for how to cut litigation costs in half

A number of recent posts have drawn on an article published in Met. Corp. Counsel, Vol. 16, July 2008 at 39, by two partners at Meiselman, Denlea, Packman, Carton & Eberz. The authors boldly state that “Most corporations could cut their litigation costs in half without adversely impacting the outcome of any of their litigation matters.” They attribute much of the spiral of litigation spending to the economic incentives of law firms and the pusillanimity of general counsel who seek cover behind expensive, big-name firms (See my post of Aug. 13, 2008: litigation cost control techniques.).

Their tactical suggestions for how to reduce litigation costs include the following:

1. Insist on detailed budgets periodically revised (See my post of Nov. 6, 2005: budgets with 9 references.)

2. Limit severely the number of lawyers involved in the case and specific court conferences or depositions (See my post of Aug. 13, 2008: litigation cost control techniques.).

3. Rein in the number of motions and understand your odds and costs (See my post of Aug. 13, 2008: litigation cost control techniques.).

4. Cut back on depositions, especially where you can obtain signed witness statements (See my post of Aug. 13, 2008: litigation cost control techniques.).

5. Limit the number of intra-office conferences your attorneys bill (See my post of Nov. 1, 2005: Wachovia’s sharp eye on conferences within firms.).

6. Keep a close eye on legal research requiring more than 10 hours on any one issue (See my post of Sept. 13, 2005: disbursement costs of online research; Sept. 27, 2005: survey data on research spend; Jan. 16, 2006: providers of research services; and Dec. 19, 2006: do not pay online legal research costs.).

7. Agree to reasonable hourly rates, because “There is simply no need to pay more than $500/hour to obtain top-notch legal talent and considerably less for quality associates.”

8. Mandate billing frequency and format.

9. Review bills for disbursement charges (See my post of Dec. 1, 2006: disbursements of law firms with 7 references.).

10. Require litigation counsel to use cost-effective investigation firms and experts and always have them estimate the cost for the assignments

11. Obtain litigation reports – “short, to the point and address[ed to] the client’s goals – “within 20 days of being retained, after pleadings, after discovery, after depositions, and before trial” (See my posts of Feb. 23, 2008: early case assessment with 8 references; and status reports.).

I notice that the two partners who wrote the article did not say anything about billing arrangements other than hourly-rate based nor did they comment on how to control the costs of discovery of electronic documents.

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