Law department managers ought to carefully refer to an arrangement with law firms as “virtual.” At least five variant applications have surfaced in this blog.
Some in-house managers say it’s “virtual” when they put in-house lawyers and paralegals on a project team with an outside law firm and expect the combined forces to work as one (See my post of June 5, 2006 for this usage.). Some say it’s virtual when they collectively manage several law firms – and possibly vendors – in an undertaking (See my post of Nov. 6, 2006 regarding a “crisis team.”). Others describe an arrangement as “virtual” if they retain lawyers at different firms to work in a collective team (See my post of Dec. 5, 2005 about Cisco). Another application of the term encompasses the traditional national coordinating counsel role, with the firm in that role overseeing many other firms (See my post of Nov. 25, 2006 on the OxyContin pyramid; and Dec. 3, 2006 on the benefits.). A fifth definition assumes that a “virtual team” of law firms is an orchestration of several firms that have equal involvement (See my post of July 16, 2005 on the term “multi-sourcing.”).