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The profusion and prolixity of outside counsel guidelines

My post of Aug.1, 2006 asked whether guidelines for outside counsel make much of a difference in the amounts spent by law departments. I suspect not, but others disagree. My friend Mike Roster, the former General Counsel of Golden West Financial Corporation and Stamford University, must have believed in their efficacy. He offered some comments on my post:

“When I was in private practice, I cringed to see the 20-plus page guidelines being sent by a given client. And then imagine a firm of over 500 or 1,000 attorneys and with 3,000 to 10,000 clients, all insisting on their own guidelines. And then you wonder why (a) law firm costs keep rising and (b) lawyers increasingly hate private practice? So when I became a GC, I insisted that our guidelines fit on a single page, which they did. And they covered it all.”

The evolution and elongation of outside counsel guidelines reminds me of how the LEDES “standard” for e-billing has similarly diverged over time in many directions.