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Ten most interesting posts on this blog of May 2009

Some time having passed since I published 100 or so posts during May, I reread them all and chose the ten most provocative and interesting. For each, I wrote in brackets after the header a brief description of the post; you can click on the post title to read it in its entirety. If you have a comment or would like all the posts at once, please email me and I will be happy to send them to you in a Word file.

  1. Auctions: pick the best bidder but for one dollar more than the second best bid (May 28, 2009)
    [A way to lessen the likelihood that the prevailing bid is too low for the winner to perform well. This method increases the chance that a fixed-fee arrangement will succeed for both sides.]

  2. Four ways to look at concentration regarding a department’s use of law firms (May 29, 2009)
    [The pattern of a legal department’s use of law firms has several formulations. Commonly, concentration describes the number of firms retained, but there are other ways to convey different aspects, such as according to matters or only firms paid above a certain amount.]

  3. Try a double blind evaluation of law firm proposals (May 29, 2009)
    [The bias of pre-formed impressions makes evaluations of proposals from firms quite problematic. Evaluators in the legal department like or dislike some firms even before they read the proposal. One way around such favoritism is to conceal the identity of the firms in large parts of their proposals.]

  4. A possible benchmark metric: total lawyer hours worked per billion of revenue (May 22, 2009)
    [A company buys hours of attorney work from its inside employee lawyers and from its outside law firms. The total of those hours worked, when normalized per billion of revenue, gives general counsel another metric to benchmark against.]

  5. A suggested revision to the estimate that in-house attorneys work 1,850 chargeable hours a year (May 21, 2009)
    [All kinds of metrics and management decisions depend on reasonable figures for how hard internal lawyers work. The standard benchmark for what are referred to as “chargeable hours” may be too high.]

  6. Specialist lawyers see their legal domain in everything; the sniglet “experteyes” (May 10, 2009)
    [Among the tensions inherent in a general counsel hiring lawyers who specialize in a particular area of law is the spot-it-everywhere syndrome. To a specialist, nearly every fact pattern exposes a risk in the specialty area.]

  7. The useful information you gain about your lawsuit if you negotiate an alternative fee arrangement (May 6, 2009)
    [If a law firm contemplates accepting lower fees now in return for the possibility of a results bonus later, that firm will size up your chances. How the firm, therefore, negotiates the bonus arrangement gives you insights into what they think the matter is likely to be worth.]

  8. Does the monthly rate of expenditures on cases rise faster the longer the case lasts? (May 6, 2009)
    [Everyone expects legal fees to skyrocket just before and during trials. But some people think that as cases drag on the burn rate rises. Perhaps that is because cases that can be resolved are resolved, and the few that remain are difficult, presents higher risks and rewards, and more effort.]

  9. A radical proposal – divert bill-review time to firm-direction time (May 3, 2009)
    [If those who review bills rarely write off much time or give feedback to their law firms, why bother? Spend that review time telling the firm what to do, how to do it, and when to do it and enjoy greater savings.]

  10. Not what you hear: high satisfaction with their firms’ ability to understand clients’ business needs (May 3, 2009)
    [Loyalty to their key law firms has always been high among legal departments. If an in-house lawyer does not like a partner’s work, that lawyer stops using the firm. The effect over time of all this is that most in-house lawyers feel pretty good about the firms they individually use.]

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