At a recent conference of the Iberian Lawyer’s In-House Club, “Some in-house lawyers said they meet regularly with their external lawyers to ask if the work is profitable for them, although some other lawyers said this was not appropriate.” I should say not!
The idea of checking on whether your external firm is making as much as it thinks it should is ludicrous. The quote, from Iberian Lawyer, Jan./Feb. 2010 at 13, dismays me as I side completely with those at the conference who believe even asking the question is “inappropriate.”
Your responsibility as general counsel is to maximize the value obtained by your company from law firms. Not that you should abuse them, think short term and beggar them, but youyou’re your team should strive to obtain good value for your money and let them worry about their take-home pay.
Management moves within firms, entrepreneurial drive and greed will take care of firm profits, I assure you (See my post of March 6, 2006: Italian firms being the most profitable in 2005 and UK firms reporting median profits per partner of €529,800; Oct. 31, 2005: low-ball fee arrangements reach unprofitable rates; March 20, 2007: do busy and profitable law firms reject alternative billing arrangements; and Jan. 19, 2008: be one of your primary firms’ profitable clients.).