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Eventually, we will have much more data on matter costs

There is so much demand to compare the costs of legal matters that different groups in the law department industry will gradually develop databases. E-billing vendors will consolidate data from their customers once they gain permission and figure out the kinds of matters that lend themselves to analysis. Procurement groups will swap information on billing rates and costs of matters.

Other sources of average-cost-per-matter metrics suggest themselves. The many organizations of general counsel could contribute their share (See my posts of Dec. 19, 2005 and Oct. 22, 2006 on groups for general counsel.). Law departments in an industry will band together to benchmark and share data on matter costs. Vendors of matter management systems will get into the act and compile the raw material of metrics. Then too, publications and surveys will hit upon ways to gather and pump out per-matter cost data. Finally, it seems reasonable that internet repositories will collect and provide data along the lines of social networks or wikis, like contributed ratings of books on Amazon. Even law firms might succumb eventually and disclose their internal figures: “Our 30 most recent environmental remediation cases averaged 26 months and $455,000.”