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Six E’s for Evaluations of law firms

If you are law department that follows a disciplined approach and evaluates your law firms’ performances, you should include as many of the following criteria as possible. My mnemonic uses the letter E and I list them in what I would argue is their priority order.

1) Expertise – did the firm’s lawyers know the applicable substantive law?
2) Effectiveness – did the firm’s lawyers achieve the company’s objective?
3) Energetic – did the firm’s lawyers meet deadlines and respond to requests by the law department on time?
4) Efficiency – did they staff the project tightly, use their time well, and keep to their budget estimate?
5) Executive view – did the firm’s lawyers understand your business goals and act to further them?
6) Eclectic – was the firm receptive to non-traditional billing and staffing arrangements?

If a law department assesses each attribute and rates each firm from one to five in comparison to the other law firms used, the department will create an index of overall value delivered for money spent (See my post of Aug. 20, 2006 on a performance index for outside counsel.).

One challenge is that no lawyer in the department can probably assess more than two or three law firms, so the comparative evaluation will be tenuous (See my post of Oct. 17, 2005 on the difficulties of evaluations of law firms when not everyone knows them all and standards diverge; and April 14, 2005 on the same point.). Another difficulty is that not every objective of a company can be obtained, but failure to do so may have nothing to do with the law firm’s performance. For that reason, a law department may wish to weight these criteria differently (See my post of March 25, 2005 on weighting client-satisfaction scores.).