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Dormancy months of litigation and law department goals of reducing cycle time

According to Corp. Counsel, Vol. 14, May 2007 at 90, General Electric’s law department pushes to reduce its cases’ cycle time (how quickly they are resolved). The law department during the period from 2002 to 2005 has reduced its average case cycle time from 19 months to 9.2 months (at 95).

It makes complete sense to resolve cases as promptly as possible that can and should be resolved, because lingering cases suck up outside counsel fees and inside attention. That goal, however, may bump into some problems.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers may take advantage of a law department’s desire to resolve cases quickly and use delay to gain a bit of a negotiating edge. Second, sometimes cases languish without any activity or cost and that should be just fine for a defendant law department (See my post of April 17, 2007 on cycle times and dormancy months.). Third, case managers should focus on the hairy, risky lawsuits, not on shortening the months minor cases last. Another reason is that inside case managers have to keep pushing law firms to hear the same drum beat: close cases promptly.