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“Top 25 General Law Department Metrics” (Corp. Legal Standard, Inc.)

The Nov. 10, 2005 report by The Corporate Legal Standard includes at page 9 a table of 26 metrics, which pertain to cycle time (3 metrics), cost (2), process efficiency (14), and productivity (7). The listing presumes that the direction of improvement for each metric is obvious: shorter cycle time, more matters with budgets, more matters that use prior work product, more time devoted to strategic planning. My objections to the list are many, but let me start with three (See my post of Sept. 13, 2006 for more disagreements.).

“Percentage of matters handled under alternative fee arrangements” (No. 7) allows too much opportunity for gaming. Better to focus on the percentage of fees paid under alternative fee arrangements. Not all legal services fall into countable “matters,” such as sporadic counseling, and law departments can define matters finely or grossly (See my post of April 17, 2006 on how accounting standards dictate some matters.). More important, smaller commodity matters (See my post of Sept. 13, 2006 on the meaning of “commodity legal work.”) lend themselves more to alternative billing arrangements than do expensive, unusual matters. Still, fees count more than matters.

“Percentage of matters handled entirely consistently with established law department procedures” (No. 9) is ridiculous. Who would make all these assessments, how appropriate are the department’s “procedures,” what does it mean for a procedure to be “established,” where is the value in checking boxes of compliance are but a few of my many objections to this putative metric.

The misguided and flaw metric of “Geographic dispersion of law-related costs as compared to geographic dispersion of company revenues” (No. 14) leaves this loquacious blogger speechless.

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