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Half of all corporate law departments are leaving money on the table

By contributing author Brad Blickstein, Blickstein Group, on legal service providers:

Every year I read with interest the In-house Tech Survey in Corporate Counsel, Mar. 2007 at 73. This year’s story is titled “Playing Their Tune” and covers the quickly-increasing sophistication levels of in-house counsel vis-à-vis technology.

The most surprising number in this year’s survey–same as last year–is the number of law departments that have adopted electronic billing. Only 49 percent of law departments who responded use electronic billing. While this is a large increase from last year’s 35 percent, it’s still surprisingly low considering the clear return-on-investment from electronic billing.

No legal technology I’ve looked at has such a clear ROI. Here are a few factors:

• Legal bill review takes less time, leaving more time for the department’s attorneys to practice law.
• It’s easier (some would say possible) to enforce compliance with outside counsel guidelines.
• The resulting data can lead to better decisions going forward.

I would encourage the law departments not receiving electronic bills to strongly consider it immediately. The impact to the bottom line is too big to ignore (See my post of March 6, 2007 on actual usage by fee amount among the law departments that have e-billing.).