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Rees Morrison Morsels #38: Additions to earlier posts

Auctions and expressive bidding algorithms. Deeply suspicious of online auctions for legal services (See my post of Sept. 4, 2005 regarding General Electric’s effort.), in part because of their rigidity, I was intrigued by a small comment in the Harv. Bus. Rev., Vol. 85, Feb. 2007 at 25. The item, written by MIT’s Michael Schrage, explains that Proctor & Gamble has been using “expressive bidding” algorithms that “allow suppliers to bid online with bundled offerings of products and service levels rather than with standardized lots.” That complex mathematical tool (See my post of Feb. 1, 2007 on IBM’s applied math department.) suggests that there may be more flexibility possible for online auctions of legal services.

Less need than expected for international lawyers. The chairman of a major Canadian law firm, Stikeman Elliott, was quoted in Canadian Lawyer, Jan. 2007 at 32, about the predominant bodies of law relied on for global transactions: “As companies go global, the language of global legal services, or the currency, tends to be primarily U.S. law or U.K. law.” That true, US and UK law departments can handle much of their transactional work from their homeland (See my post of March 19, 2006 about US-based international lawyers.).

Detecting attorney bill padding. The Committee on Mandatory Fee Arbitration of the State Bar of California issued a seven-page guideline dated Jan. 29, 2003 on how to spot padded lawyer bills. It is available online. I commend it as a clear and useful summary (See my post of Aug. 26, 2006 on bill padding.).

Measuring the cost of legal services caused by Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests (Australia). Government agencies everywhere face some variation of FOIA – requests by people for government documents. The Australian Attorney-General’s Department studied the costs to it of compliance and issued a detailed report. Here is the report’s summary: “The total reported cost attributable to the FOI Act during 2003-04 was [AU] $20,189,136, which is an increase of [AU]$1,790,956 (9.7%) on the previous year.” Since I’m sure you plan to request this information, the average cost of processing and request was [AU]$474.