Vincent Venturella, Product Line Manager for ELM Solutions, presented a session on a topic we hear about often from our clients: improving relationships with outside counsel law firms. It’s clear why this is so important to legal and claims departments. Law firms are more than just vendors – they are trusted partners whose work has a real impact on the organization’s health and success.

Most legal and claims professionals know that law firms are eager to deliver the highest quality service they possibly can. While technology can make this easier, there are often fears on both sides that new technology will be more of a barrier than a bridge. To get the attendees thinking about their outside counsel relationships, Vince asked some questions of those in the room. What technologies have worked well for improving how they work with outside counsel? What metrics do they share with firms? How have analytics helped them with law firm assignments? The discussion revealed that attendees have a mix of approaches and results.

Firms sometimes have trouble complying with complex billing guidelines. In-house attorneys don’t always get to bill review in a timely manner. The appeals process is often a bad experience on both sides, with the majority of appeals leading to a reversal of the adjustment. It can be difficult to identify the best firm to assign to a given matter.

Improving the Process Improves the Relationship

Vince offered some steps legal departments can take to make processes, and therefore the outside counsel relationship, better.

  • Simplify billing guidelines – The easier guidelines are to follow, the fewer adjustments are needed and the less time legal and claims teams, along with their outside counsel, have to spend discussing and solving billing problems.
  • Introduce more efficient invoice review – Technology can supplement legal expertise to make review less time-consuming. Machine learning can prioritize line items most likely to need attention so that reviewers can target their review time where it’s most effective.
  • Improve the appeals process – Limiting iterations keeps the process efficient. And having a third party mediate appeals means there is less chance of anyone feeling like their relationship is adversarial.

There are solutions that can help with these improvements. Managed services – LegalVIEW BillAnalyzer is one example – can supplement and extend the internal team to drive toward these organizational goals. This provides expertise to target less value-added tasks, allowing the in-house team to focus on the legal and claim work they excel at.

Benchmark and internal data can also be leveraged in combination with AI technology to select firms for specific cases to make predictions about costs, matter life, and outcomes so that managers can plan more reliably and encounter fewer surprises as matters develop.

Good communication with outside counsel, in combination with targeted technologies that help address specific pain points, can make it easier for both in-house and law firm teams to manage the complex work they collaborate on. Everyone is working toward the same goals, so just a few changes can do a lot to improve those critical law firm relationships.

Watch our video for more information on Driving Win-Win Law Firm and Client Collaboration.