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Opposing views of law departments and law firms on litigation

A partner at Ogilvy Renault, Brian Daley, succinctly contrasts the perspectives on litigation of law departments and law firms. Writing in the ACC Docket, Vol. 27, Jan./Feb. 2009 after page 48, Daley observes that “When approaching litigation, outside counsel focus on legal issues, litigation strategy, and winning. At the same time, in-house counsel and management approach the litigation from the viewpoint of costs, probability of success, the potential value of litigation either in terms of potential benefit or potential loss, and whether settlement is feasible.” Being outside counsel, Daley demurely passes over lucrative fees.

Thus, the buyers in companies view litigation in business terms. They want budgets, early case assessment, decision-trees, status reports, informative billing, and cost-effective resolution of a peripheral activity. The sellers in law firms view litigation as legal dueling. They want victory based on legal prowess with the tab on the buyer.

How two such different perspectives can be expected to align (to be in a “partnering relationship”) is beyond me.