I am a business lawyer who consults to company owners and executives:
(1) Diagnosing their risk vulnerabilities (within the attorney-client privilege),
(2) Engaging the right lawyers (and sometimes non-lawyers) – at the right price, with the right experience – and without duplication or over-staffing, and
(3) Restoring direct accountability for cost and management of the legal and regulatory compliance function to those owners and executives.
I do this because law budgets almost never go down – while the legal system’s demands skyrocket. Prevailing law firm and in-house counsel offerings prejudge compensation, workflow, and staffing decisions that no general manager would tolerate in any other function.
So, I restore accountability for those decisions to owners and executives – the same accountability they already enjoy from every other company function.
I am able to do this because I’ve worked both sides of the lawyer / client table. As a practicing lawyer, I’ve won jury verdicts in Manhattan, done innovative deals in the U.S. and abroad, and protected clients from agency bureaucrats.
On the client side – I’ve served as a general manager at Whirlpool Financial, and as an executive at GE. I understand the P&L – and I’ve unlearned wasteful cost and management ideas that I used to accept as a lawyer.
Who I Work For
I serve business owners and executives who are dissatisfied with the cost -effectiveness of their legal and regulatory compliance function. And I serve those who are tired of liability surprises that could have been prevented in the first place.
As a practicing lawyer and then as a business executive, I have witnessed ConventionalPrevailing law firm and in-house offerings shoehorn a company’s legal and regulatory compliance needs into a rigid, unvarying service delivery template. These embed waste to the extent of 20 to 40% of total costs, and they adopt a reactive posture to legal problems instead of trying to systematically avert them before they happen. Under this template, companies’ So law budgets almost never go down – while the legal system’s demands on businesses continue to skyrocket.
Some business owners and executives accept this status quo.
I offer my services to the second group.
The Problem I Solve
The problem is not lawyer quality or lawyer supply. There is no shortage of capable business lawyers in every conceivable specialty.
The problem is the lack of cost control and other management disciplinesis in the way that attorneys’ work is organized and paid for.. Conventional law firm and in-house offerings are based on compensation and workflow decisions that no general manager would tolerate in any other corporate function.
In the conventional prevailing law firm model: –
1. Hourly billing
Hourly billing requires the buyer to commit to payment before the vendor commits to a price. This purposely pits the lawyers’ interests against the clients’. And And lawyers’ pay and advancement within their firms almost invariably require that they meet a quota of hours billed – compounding the needless conflict between lawyers and the clients they’re meant to serve.
2. Hourly billing meters are running for all – for the inexperienced employee lawyers (associates) whose work accounts for do much of the work dollar amount billed for – and for the more highly paid owners (partners) who “supervise” that work.
3. The client is subjected to the law firm’s business model – which is based on what insiders call “leverage”: Inexperienced employee lawyers’ (associates’) total hourly billings are expected to exceed their total salary and benefits – typically 3X – with the excess going to the law firm’s owners (partners). Law firms’ pursuit of this excess – or “leverage” – intensifies the conflict between lawyers’ interests and clients’ interests that hourly billing introduces in the first place: For the clients, work that generates this excess is largely waste – charges for the work of these inexperienced employee lawyers substantially augment those incurred for work donebilled by their fullybetter-qualified colleagues working on the same matter.; Fbut – for law firm partnersowners (partners), – the cash flow that “leverage” creates from charges for their inexperienced employees’ (associates’) work is key to their profits.
The conventional prevailing in-house counsel model reinforces the waste inherent in the conventional prevailing law firm model – and creates some of its own:
1. General counsels wield their companies’ purchasing power in an oversupplied, buyer’s market for legal services. But most of them willingly pay for the 20 to 40% waste inherent in the conventional prevailing law firm’s business model – with its hourly billing and “leveraging” of charges for inexperienced lawyers’ work.
2. Although in-house counsel staffs were created mainly as a cost-saving counterpoint to rising law firm charges, the legal landscape is marked by specializationtoday’s legal and regulatory problems call for specialized knowledge. But a company’s legal and regulatory problems aren’t confined to one specialty. So, the The in-house lawyer faces a dilemma: Practice outside his / her area of expertise – with a limited grasp of the legal specialty involved – or hire specialists in law firms and “supervise” their work – creating expensive duplication of effort.
3. PPublished empirical spending metrics tell us that aggregate company spending for outside law firms and in-house counsel budgets almost never goes down –, and usually goes up each year.
4. TFinally, the legal profession is pretty much AWOL when it comes to preventing legal and regulatory problems before they arise in the first place. As an executive – not part of a a law and regulatory compliance function – I participated in continuous business process improvement under W. Edwards Deming’s TQM protocols at Whirlpool Financial, and then under Six Sigma at GE Capital. These have been common in corporate America for the last two decades. But tThere is has been no counterpart in legal and regulatory compliance functions processes wherethat results in improved quality improves, faster delivery, delivery accelerates, and reduced cost goes down – except in rare, outlier examples.
Happily, these rare, outlier examples prove that liability prevention is feasible, – that overall legal and regulatory compliance budgets can be cut – amid and that both of these results can take place amid substantial revenue growth in the client company.
But the client company needs to be intentional about charting a new course away from conventional law firm and in-house offerings.
How I Solve thee Problem
A Consulting Engagement
I conduct a consulting engagement with my client company’s owners and executives who are dissatisfied with the cost-effectiveness of their company’s legal and regulatory compliance function.
I charge a fixed fee for my work.
My consulting draws on two distinct disciplinesdraws on three strengthsI invite your attention to three strengths that I bring to my consulting:
First, I am a practicing lawyer. I help the client company to identify its legal and regulatory vulnerabilities. The vulnerabilities identified – , and the priorities that you as owners and executives adopt in response to them – , determine what the your company needs in compensating, designing workflow, and staffing your legal and regulatory compliance function. – and does not need – from its law and regulatory compliance function.
As a practicing lawyer, I design our his discussions vulnerabilities discussion requires genuine candor among the client team. Therefore I design that discussion for the protections of the attorney-client and work product privileges. The importance of Mmeticulous vigilance against unwanted disclosures to other private parties or to government agencies cannot be over-emphasizedis critical.
– to avoid unwanted disclosures to other private parties and government agencies.
Second, I have served as a general manager. I’ve been the client. I understand the P&L. And I have been a general manager. and So I am no longer hamstrung by the cost control and management blind spotslimited by the blind spots that limit precludekeep most practicing lawyers from in from making sound compensation, and workflow, and staffing decisions. I am My outlook is aligned with owners and executives, – and able to help them achieve their goals for law and regulatory compliance because of what I’ve unlearned by moving over to the client side . from the lawyer side of the table to the client side.
Third, I am independent. I have no relationships that might bias my advice to you. I’m free from the cross-selling pressures of law firm affiliation. And I’m not your company’s general counsel with a corresponding pressure to defend a budget. I’ve cleared my decks of potential conflicts so that I truly sit on your side of the lawyer / client table.
Where We Begin
The client company and I begin together by getting very specific on what you want from your law and regulatory compliance function – and what you are not getting.
Beginning with what owners and executives want is imperative to cost-effectiveness – but it’s uncommon in actual practice. The central defect of conventional prevailing law firm and in-house offerings is that you – the client’s generalclient company’s owners and executives management –of the client business is have been precluded shut out of– beforehand – from the most basic compensation, and workflow, and staffing decisions in legal and regulatory compliance. By the time they reach you, these decisions have already been prejudged by lawyers in law firms – and prejudged by lawyers in-house who are alumni of such firms – almost none of whom has ever had P&L duties.
It’s imperative to begin with what owners and executives want in the legal and regulatory compliance function. Beginning with what owners and executives want is imperative to cost-effectiveness – butBut it’s uncommon in actual practice because of the way that the legal profession’s business models dictate prevailing law firm and in-house counsel offerings.
I restore to owners and executives the decision-making role in legal and regulatory compliance from which they have been preemptively excluded. it’s uncommon in actual practice.
What Happens in the Consultation Process
I consult with your owners and executives to enable you them to reorganize your law and regulatory compliance function for cost-effectivenessfor cost control and liability prevention..
We start with a review of the client company’s legal and regulatory vulnerabilities.
Then , working together, we select the right lawyers and related professionals for your needs; we negotiate the engagement of those lawyers and related professionals on price and other service terms that benefit the client company; we avoid duplication or over-staffing; and we conduct ongoing management and course corrections for the law and compliance function over time.
Apart from leading the evaluation of risk vulnerabilities – and securing client discussions of those vulnerabilities under the attorney-client privilege and attorney work product privilege – I Apart from leading owners and executives in identifying legal and regulatory vulnerabilitdon’t practice law on behalf ofperform day-to-day legal services your company on a day-to-day basisfor the client company.
I don’t go to court for you.
I don’t document deals for you.
I don’t intervene with government officials on your behalf.(e.g., go to court, document deals, intervene with government officials).
And I don’t act as your general counsel.
I confine my role to helping you to transform and managereorganize your law and regulatory compliance function – and to maintaining and improving upon that transformation reorganization over time. – with a focus on cost control and the design of proactive business processes to prevention of liability in the first place.
As I state above, I design all discussions relating to legal and regulatory vulnerabilities – both in an initial time-limited project of dedicated activity, and thereafter – for the protections of the attorney-client and work product privileges. The importance of meticulous vigilance against unwanted disclosures to other private parties or to government agencies cannot be over-emphasized.
The consultation typically takes the form of a time-limited project of dedicated activity, subject to a deadline. With periodic check-in meetings between client personnel and me to evaluate progress and conduct course corrections. Again, I design all discussions of risk vulnerability for the protection of the attorney-client privilege and attorney work product doctrines.
An ongoing “hotline” function makes me easily available to you after the time-limited project of dedicated activity has come to a successful conclusion.
This is all for a fixed fee. There is noWithout an hourly billing meter running to discourage full consultation between us.
Am I Saying the that Law Firms or Legal Departments are a Bad Idea?
I’m saying company owners’ and executives’ priorities should govern the law and regulatory compliance function – full stop. Law firms and legal departments are simply two frameworks for buying legal and regulatory expertise, organizing the work, and deciding who is the right person to do what.
As I observe above – the prevailing law firm and in-house offerings are based on wasteful compensation, workflow, and staffing decisions that no general manager would tolerate in any other corporate function.
The problem does not consist in law firms or in-house offerings as such. The problem consists in the disconnect between an owner’s or an executive’s priorities, on one hand, and the prejudged compensation, workflow, and staffing decisions that the legal profession makes on that owner’s or executive’s behalf through the prevailing law firm and in-house offerings.
Bridging that disconnect is the key to cutting the 20 to 40% waste that’s embedded in legal and regulatory compliance costs, and it’s the key to shifting from a reactive posture to preventing liability in the first place.