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Obstacles to improving outside counsel management: agreement and disagreement

A document of the Corporate Executive Board lays out 13 obstacles within law departments to improving outside counsel management. They include several that I agree with. “Pressure to use expensive law firms as an ‘insurance policy’ for important matters” (See my post of May 23, 2007 on CYA.). “Reluctance to push on costs as it may alienate law firms” (See my post of July 30, 2005 on the fear of driving away good firms with cost niggling.). Three other obstacles have to do with insufficient internal headcount or budget to invest in cost-saving technology, and they are unobjectionable.

Three of the obstacles I question. “Difficulty switching firms due to long-standing relationships and loss of institutional knowledge” may be exaggerated (See my post of July 21, 2006 disputing the putative losses from transition to a new firm.). “Law firms lacking commercial understanding of the business” may have several interpretations. “Lack of small firms in the market capable of handling large or complex matters” the limitation for large matters that require many staff may have some validity but complexity is not beyond the scope of experienced partners in specialty boutiques (See my post of June 30, 2007 for comments on obstacles not on the list.).