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A staffing model for US litigation: barrister, solicitor, case manager, contractor, etc.

In a recent presentation, a senior lawyer of a major manufacturing company described his law department’s model for how to staff a lawsuit. More, he described the approximate percentage of time and cost the company believes is appropriate for each role.

It starts with a lawyer they call a “barrister,” a senior trial lawyer who sets strategy, heads the team, and can be either an inside lawyer or a partner from a firm. Next on the team is a “solicitor,” who coordinates discovery efforts, trial preparation, and serves as second chair at trial. The solicitor might likewise be from either the department or a firm even if the “barrister” is an outside counsel.

A combination of a “case manager,” who serves as a project manager to some extent, one or more contractors armed with e-discovery software, and an LPO provider constitute a third part of the team. Fourthly, there is a role for a staff attorney or paralegal to do research, draft motions and pleadings, and handle exhibits.

As to time and cost, the model allocates and seeks to enforce about 10 percent to the barrister, 20 percent to the solicitor, and 70 percent to the remainder of the team (See my post of Oct. 22, 2009: four staffing models when you manage a law firm on a matter; and Nov. 21, 2005: imposed staffing models.). The presenter claimed that this staffing model reduces costs dramatically yet cuts no corners on quality. I suspect it is too light at the top for most law departments and nearly all law firms.