As you know, I pay a lot of attention to articles on developments in the ways the nature and dynamics of the practice of law are changing with the push of clients. With all of the recent talk about “Web 2.0” among bloggers, maybe it’s time to start talking about Law 2.0. I’m now starting to see more discussion of these issues outside the traditional legal and law practice management resources.
Here’s a good example. The latest issue of CFO Magazine has an article called “Lawyers for Less,” by Russ Banham. The blurb for the article says: “Large companies are opting for cheaper, more-predictable alternatives to the traditional billable-hours approach.”
In one sense, the article covers familiar territory, if you are familiar with the territory – developments in recent years at DuPont, Tyco, Cisco and FMC Technologies. However, I don’t mean that as a criticism of the article – not that many people are familiar with these developments and the article tells the story of these developments as well as I have seen it done.
In another sense, the article becomes much more interesting. It’s in CFO magazine, not a legal magazine. The website lists the article in the “Procurement” section, suggesting the nascent trend of viewing legal services providers as just one more standard type of vendor that can be managed and brought under control. Lawyers, predictably, struggle with that notion.
If I were a CFO and read this article, there’d be no doubt that I’d be talking to my legal department about this article and ways we might implement some of the techniques in the article.
A couple of money (perhaps real money) quotes from the article:
“Companies ‘already view their law departments as cost centers. They need to look beyond that and bring predictability to them,’ says Fred Krebs, president and chief operating officer of the Association of Corporate Counsel.”
FMC Technologies Inc. CFO and senior vice president Bill Schumann – “I want low cost first and cost certainty second, and I’m not sure the traditional billable-hour format provides either.”
“With Cisco Systems’s adoption of fixed-fee arrangements for ‘the vast majority’ of its business with outside firms, says general counsel Mark Chandler, ‘one effect has been a new focus on technology.'”
I really like that last quote.
Take a close look at how the law firms of the companies mentioned in this article have changed their practices. That’s one of the big messages in this article.
This article earns my “highly recommended” seal of approval and might actually start people thinking a little harder about something like Law 2.0.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
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