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A teasing statement of dramatic savings in litigation

The Financial Times included this tantalizing snippet in its Oct. 17, 2008 issue where an article discusses law department innovation (by Michael Peel).

“Another in-house lawyer who was seen as an original thinker was Dirk Tirez, whose work centred on trying to make Belgian Post’s approach to litigation more efficient. The company says that the initiative has allowed it to cut litigation costs 40 percent since 2005. The number of new files opened has fallen 43 percent, while the number of outside advisors deployed has been cut from 65 to 11 as their performance has been measured more toughly.”

That all sounds impressive, but statements of results don’t tell anything about how Belgian Post achieved them. What was the situation three years before and are “litigation costs” broader than fees paid to external counsel, e.g., settlements and judgments? Does it mean the company began to pay claims more quickly and generously, thereby avoiding lawsuits? The reduction in new files suggests that litigation avoidance has been crucial.

And, to ask one more question out of many, did Belgian Post need fewer outside advisors (presumably law firms) because it cut its litigation load dramatically or how did it scrutinize performance of those advisors and cull them?

My point is that I am heartened to hear of a managerial success by a law department, but the unexplained claims of results achieved do not help anyone understand their context or follow in the same footsteps.