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“Average savings from outside-counsel cost control methods” – dubious data

If the estimates of average savings from five cost-control methods, as reported by the 2002 ACCA/Serengetti Survey of more then 250 law departments, are even close to true, the world of law departments would have leaped to put them in play. They aren’t and they haven’t.

According to the summary in ACCA Docket (April 2003 at 14), the “mean average savings” were for in-house fee/bill manager – 24%, discounted/alternative fees – 22%, evaluations of outside counsel – 20%, case/matter budgets – 18%, and matter management systems – 16%. Could this mean that the average law department, having instituted evaluations of outside counsel, saved 20% of their baseline spend?

Fictitious? Foolish? Phantasmagorical? My magic metrics meter goes deep, deep red, to the point I feel it is irresponsible to suggest such average savings on outside counsel fees. Anyone who cares about the purity and usefulness of law department management metrics should be apoplectic. (See my magic meter posts on April 18, 2005 about writing tasks down and May 20 & 24, 2005 on outsourced legal services.) And, ACCA, the publisher, is as culpable as Serengetti.