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Save electronic copies of law firm work product, but don’t expect a return on your investment

The contrarian in me dislikes recommendations that trip off the tongue but can trip up a law department. I heard one of them in a recent collection of methods to manage outside counsel. Rob Thomas of Serengeti Law included as his eighth recommendation for managing outside counsel costs to obtain electronic copies of documents and work product.

Thomas cites a bill auditor for four arguments in support of his recommendation. Inside counsel ought to review the documents, value them as backup to the law firm’s originals, recycle them to other firms, and look at them during a fee or performance review.

It’s easy to recommend preservation of electronic work product (See my post of Aug. 22, 2006 and its doubts.), but time consuming and likely to be of little value. Someone has to index the documents or store them in a searchable medium. Some of the documents have to be redacted. Other lawyers and paralegals in the department must search effectively for apposite documents and get them to the new law firm, which in turn has to rely on them for their to be savings.