It’s Not Your Daddy’s Legal Model: The Future of Legal Staffing
By Kathleen Delano, Chief Executive Officer, PMIC Incorporated
We live in an outsourced economy. Companies focus on core business offerings and outsource managed services from IT to accounting to mailroom functions. Buyers want the benefits of paying for only what they need.
The Legal Industry is in chaos. Big Law is like fish – the biggest ones are gobbling up the little ones, and the medium sized ones are ducking for cover. A plethora of vendors offer e-discovery, staffing, court reporting, expert witnesses and every possible element of the legal ecosystem in which matters are handled. This legal ecosystem is fragmenting and it appears that no one knows what to do. Law Firms open discovery centers in remote (low cost) jurisdictions to hang on to routine tasks such as first-pass document reviews that could and should be outsourced to appropriate staffing teams.
Why? The answer is straight forward: in very few industries does the seller (the Law Firm) hold such power over the buyer (in-house counsel). To combat this, the in-house world struggles to find innovative ways to leverage their buying power, mitigate risk and keep their jobs if a case goes south. (A common saying among in-house teams is “no one got fired for hiring a white-glove “CYA Firm”). General Counsel create “Preferred Provider” panels that demand law firms decrease hourly rates year over year.
It doesn’t work. What will work is a complete overhaul of the legal procurement model. There is a glut of lawyers on the market because young lawyers were born 15 years too late to capitalize on the partner track offered by the traditional law firm model. Saddled with onerous debt, these young attorneys struggle to find contract jobs at $30/hour, which barely pays the rent, much less their student loans. The battle among vendors and law firms results in scope creep, redundancy, inconsistency and inefficiency.
The answer is to swallow hard and realize that the rules of engagement must change. Legal Process Optimization™ (LPO) is PMIC Incorporated’s patent pending process that brings a third party to the table on behalf of the buyer. Instead of “DRIVE DOWN LEGAL COSTS!” the message and the result is “INCREASE RETURN ON LEGAL INVESTMET!”
LPO™ represents the combination of legal and business knowledge that form integrated methods to manage all business aspects of legal matters – litigation, transactions and government actions. LPO™ are designed to, at long last, answer the challenge of in-house counsel and procurement teams to generate the highest return on clients’ legal spend without sacrificing the quality of representation. The reason it hasn’t been done before is that for centuries, the legal industry has been a closed system. It takes a revolutionary, positive disruption to change the game. Put simply, the legal industry needs adult supervision. Buyers trying to hammer down costs often results in a harried in-house team ceding oversight of a host of vendors to the law firm. That leads to scope creep and resentment on the part of law firms trying to maintain profits. By disaggregating a matter and putting the pieces back together, LPO™ corrals the moving parts into a cohesive whole that pays a fair price for the complexity of the task, manages the business side of the legal ecosystem, and brings cohesion to the market.