Paul Lippe, muse and master of Legal OnRamp, wrote a piece about the top ten ways to reduce legal costs. Number ten particularly inspired me to write.
“10) Make no small plans. Most cost-savings approaches in law amount to no more than tinkering—arguing whether two versus three associates should attend a deposition, insisting on fewer motions in a case, imposing rules for how expensive a hotel folks can stay at, negotiating the discount from 9 percent to 11 percent. The good news is that you can guarantee if you pursue those approaches you will show results. That’s the nature of metrics—focus on something, and you can show you improved it. But these results will be trivial, and mask the failure to make meaningful change.”
Paul is right that small tinkers make little differences. Rearranging deck chairs and all that. He then plunges in much deeper, and probably thereby sinks most general counsel:
“But if you start to ask yourself how you can save 50 percent, you’ll open up lots of possibilities that are not only achievable, but materially improve everyone’s lives.”
Well, if 50 percent savings can be had, the ante becomes too rich for general counsel – the risk and change and gamble of the huge hurdles scare them, even if they could agree theoretically that such swingeing reduction is possible. In fact, few would even grant the premise that their external costs are double what they should be since they see themselves as pretty careful stewards already, thank you very much.
Call me timid, brand me as nearsighted, knock my lack of imagination and insight, but I believe that urging realistic steps to control costs, taken with continuous efforts to stride farther and faster, will convince more managers to join and have a shot at winning the race.