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How Firms Can Introduce Efficiency to Retain Clients After COVID-19

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Episode 1 of The Advisory Board highlighted the pressure on law firms and legal departments to cut costs in the wake of COVID-19. In our previous blog post, we discussed how in-house teams are already responding to that pressure by pushing for alternative fee arrangements and consolidating work into the firms that provide the best value. For law firms, this means attorneys need to figure out not just how to be a good litigator, but also how to provide high-quality work efficiently. Two key ways our panel believes law firms can introduce efficiency are through technology and prevention. 

Trevor Uffleman, the GC of an insurance company, predicts an increase in adoption of legal technology as an effect of the COVID-19 economic climate. “I’m always looking for new and better ways to do things, technological solutions that can automate something,” Trevor says, pointing to Casetext’s new litigation automation technology, Compose, as an example. Adoption of technology, such as automation and A.I., can help law firms demonstrate efficiency by producing better results for clients more quickly. 

As Nicole Auerbach, co-founder of law firm ElevateNext, explains, technology and consolidation of legal work may go hand-in-hand. Consolidating work into a smaller number of firms makes it easier to set processes that integrate consistent use of technology across cases (and even across types of litigations). At the same time, by encouraging the use of alternative fee arrangements, consolidation can give law firms an economic incentive to leverage technology to work more efficiently. 

Another form of efficiency that law firms can provide to their clients is a bit outside what many consider to be the role of a litigation attorney: helping clients to prevent litigation before it starts. “Some of the greatest opportunities for the client to save money are in prevention,” Ralph Baxter says. Trevor describes how as a GC, managing your company’s litigation can sometimes mean finding ways to prevent it. But as Nicole explains, “It’s very hard when you’re a lean law department and you’re constantly reactionary, putting out fires, you don’t have time to take a step back. You need to look to outside providers who can do that, who can do it cost-effectively and build that into the fabric of what you’re doing, because it is such a substantial way to reduce your costs.”

Nicole works with her clients to meet their business goals through prevention, including by sitting down with clients to review cases and discuss how to avoid similar ones in the future: “The only way that you’re going to really drastically reduce the amount of work that you have is by trying to identify the root cause of that work, so that the next case is prevented,” Nicole explains. She adds using alternative fee arrangements can also make it easier for law firms and clients to partner on prevention. Under a billable hour model, “the firm has no incentive to settle things earlier,” Nicole says. “You can do that in an alternative fee a lot better. You can build incentives into your fee model.” 

For more on how law firms are adjusting to meet the needs of their clients in the post-COVID-19 economy, watch Episode 1 of The Advisory Board. You can also click here to learn more about Casetext’s litigation automation technology, Compose. 

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