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A method to rate outside-counsel guidelines

Intriguingly, the Ethisphere Institute offers to complete a Code of Conduct analysis using its methodology and ratings on 57 elements. As described in Ethisphere, Qtr. 2, 2008 at 13, each of eight critical components has a weighting and they aggregate the scores of experts on those ratings.

Perhaps someone will organize a comparable panel of experts to rate outside-counsel guidelines on a range of components. Both law departments and firms could submit guidelines and receive a rating of the guidelines on the various scales, plus an overall assessment. Departments would like to know new ideas and how they might improve their statements of operating principles; law firms would like to know if a department is over-reaching.

I have written frequently about guidelines that set compliance requirements for law firms (See my posts of Dec. 17, 2007: profusion and prolixity of guidelines; and Feb. 6, 2008: nine ways to improve them.). Many posts concern specific injunctions set out by such guidelines (See my posts of Jan.10, 2006: use of company’s name for promotional purposes; March 4, 2007: disbursements; Aug. 16, 2006: over-time charges; Jan. 10, 2006 and Sept. 5, 2007: billing for travel time; Dec. 1, 2006: disbursements; Aug. 9, 2006: managing partners certify compliance; Nov. 5, 2006: retention of your legal files; March 25, 2008: budget expectations.).

Other posts have ranged across a variety of other topics regarding guidelines (See my posts of Aug. 1, 2006: questions whether they achieve their goals: Sept. 5, 2007 and March 5, 2008: detailed and strict guidelines compared to short and constitutional; Aug. 24, 2006: differences between retention letters and outside counsel guidelines; and Oct. 29, 2006: beyond retention letters and outside counsel guidelines.).