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Drinker Biddle & Reath hired a chief value officer (CVO): does such a step make a difference to law department clients?

According to an article in the Met. Corp. Counsel, Oct. 2011 at 41, the U.S. law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath, with approximately 650 lawyers, “became the first major law firm to hire a chief value officer.” Law departments that care about the value they obtain from their outside counsel – what departments don’t? – might ask whether their key firms have done something akin to this investment. The Drinker CVO is “charged with incorporating the value concept into the firm’s philosophy and culture: analyzing engagements to determine whether and how they provide clients value; and strategizing long-term value solutions.”

This is all the article states. The cynic in me must be tamed because Drinker at least has its heart in the right place, although I imagine it is extremely difficult for someone even to question the value delivered by partners of a major law firm let alone suggest how they might increase the value they produce. Even if the firm’s action were mostly optics and PR, it gives general counsel a concrete basis to ask about key law firms’ tangible efforts to produce more value.