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.).