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Asymmetric commitments in ACC’s Value Challenge’s Covenant with Counsel

Among the 16 commitments by clients and 17 by law firms in the Covenant with Counsel, part of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Value Challenge, are eight paired commitments, both sides agreeing to related undertakings (See my post of April 25, 2009: mutual, related promises.). In contrast, several of the commitments run one way only, yet they too deserve paired undertakings.

“Evaluate your performance fairly and regularly” (Client 6); law departments should seek from their law firms candid feedback about how the department could improve (See my post of Nov. 16, 2005: evaluations of law firms with 9 references.).

“Conduct ‘after-action’ reviews at the end of each matter to help continuously improve performance” (Client 7), yet there is no counterpart pledge by law firms to contribute to the post mortems (See my post of May 27, 2008: post mortems with 7 references.).

“Assist your firm to better collaborate with other lawyers and law firms” (Client 11), yet if this is so important as to make this list – I doubt many clients see this as important in their dealings with outside counsel, why not have firms agree to collaborate fully with other firms?

Three covenants by law firms deserve to have reciprocal covenants by clients.

“Use technology to our mutual benefit, including billing” (Firm 13), yet this cries out for clients to agree to invest in useful technology, such as document management systems or extranets.

“Work hard to retain and reward personnel that embrace these concepts (Firm 16) should have a doppelganger on the client side: “Have lawyers who embrace these concepts.”

“Seek to reduce our costs creatively and constantly, and share those savings with you” (Firm 8) might have a matching statement by clients along the lines of “Seek to reduce our costs creatively and constantly, and share those cost-saving ideas with you.”