Assign cases to categories and manage the categories differently

One technique general counsel should consider is to segment cases into broad tracks according to their risk and match each track to a set of management activities. Cases in the low oversight track – the majority of cases, which pose no material risks – are handled by outside law firms and receive minimal oversight by in-house lawyers; cases in an intermediate track – those with significance to the company – have more hands-on oversight from inside.

The relatively rare high-risk cases warrant extensive involvement internally, even to the point of attending depositions and taking part in the full range of litigation management activities. With a tiered approach to cases, resources should better match risks and the value obtained by the client (See my post of May 23, 2007: fees paid vary by the complexity of a patent application; Nov. 25, 2005: clear-cut value difference between types of similar matters; May 15, 2005: NLRB’s tiered system for handling charges; and Aug. 22, 2006: tiered rates for individual lawyers based on the difficulty of work.).

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