Top 10 guidelines for your law firms
Putting in place and reviewing law firm guidelines on a yearly basis can seem like a tedious process for in-house counsel. However, having these guidelines in place can clarify the company-law firm relationship and save a great deal of time down the road by eliminating law firm billing and matter management mistakes. Having all the billing guidelines clearly stated also gives in-house counsel a basis on which to judge whether outside counsel is providing the type of service the legal department requires. Law departments often look for standard law firm guidelines so that they neither get taken advantage of by their law firms, nor harm their relationships by being outside the norm. While guidelines can vary from industry to industry, the following are some common guidelines used across industries that a legal department can use in drafting the basis of their own law firm guidelines.
1. Billing terms
This can be a broad category that includes several important items. The billing terms often include items such as: fees not being increased within the calendar year without written approval; lawyer rates for the following year being submitted by a certain date before the end of the company‘s fiscal year; a statement on which types of cases may be eligible for pre-approved alternative fee arrangements versus hourly rates; and that all outside counsel must be pre-approved on matters, with no “drive-by” timekeepers billing on matters without prior approval. Another provision seen more and more is that no firstyear lawyers bill on their matters. Legal departments are increasingly unwilling to pay for the training of these new associates.
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