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Guidelines for outside counsel – do they work?

We all know the litany from the classic guidelines for outside counsel. They lay down like tablets from on high a department’s expectations for ethical and effective staffing, billing, reporting, and management of matters handled by outside counsel.

What none of us know is whether those guidelines have effect. No one has studied comparable law departments, of which one group uses guidelines and the other dispenses with them. This is the kind of empirical research (See my post of Oct. 23, 2005 about the dearth of academic, empirical research; July 4, 2006 on lack of data; and Aug. 1, 2006 on natural experiments.), that we so sorely need in the law department industry.

My personal view is that outside counsel guidelines make very little difference for a law department’s budget numbers.