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The “first call” is free as part of a major refiguring of ITV’s outside counsel panel

One of the five initiatives undertaken by the 40 lawyers of media company ITV was described briefly by the Financial Times. The law department won the newspaper’s annual award for being the most innovative law department. The initiative of note to me was that when ITV slashed its panel from 45 law firms to 9 “the team negotiated a ‘first call’ with its partner firms for free.” Nothing more appears about this benefit in the squib published online but what I presume ITV negotiated could be quite valuable.

I can imagine that a phone call to a partner to outline a possible issue or ask a question about it could be the “first call” – perhaps even the last call. Brief responses, no research required, no associate time, no meetings or memos, just straight from the lip of an experienced partner, ought to be part of a commitment by the handful of firms that get the most of your legal work (See my post of Oct. 12, 2010: all-you-can eat retainers.).