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Pros and cons of Requests for Services from clients

I have worked recently with a legal department that requires clients to complete an RLA (Request for Legal Advice) which goes into the department’s matter management system. If more than a couple of hours of work will be needed from the law department, clients are required to complete and submit a RLA. Let’s consider the sweet and the sour of RLAs starting with the sweet (See my post of March 26, 2007: comments on a US county that requires them.).

They lessen forum shopping by clients because the request is on file.
They create a database and metrics of workload because the information goes into a database format.
They reduce the number of trivial requests because clients have to do something beyond a call or email.
They clarify expectations on both sides because the service needed is in writing.
They push clients to think about what they need because the requirements are spelled out on the form.

All is not sweet, however, with required requests by internal clients for legal services.

They create an administrative hassle because it is simply one more hoop for clients to jump through and they may not be eager to bring in lawyers at all.
They may deter valid requests because it takes time and effort to complete the submission (Type I error of there being a legal problem that is not identified).
They may require clients to over-document simple requests (Type II error of there being no legal problem but one is identified).
They cause delay because someone has to read and interpret the form once it is submitted.
They violate a « client service » attitude because they create an impediment and an irritant.

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