One of the big goals of in-house legal departments is to cut the overhead costs of outside legal services. While media coverage has focused on outsourcing as a cost-saver in routine elements of litigation, Randy McClanahan of Houston’s McClanahan Myers Espey is advocating something else—his law firm is offering to help in-house counsel bring their litigation work back in house. The advantage for legal departments is less economic reliance on outside providers, and perhaps a higher level of care with the work remaining closer to in-house corporate counsel.
The firm’s litigation “in-sourcing” service is based on bringing routine aspects of document production, discovery, investigation and research back inside the company to be handled by corporate employees. The law firm assumes the role of lead counsel by acting in an advisory role, directing the in-house employees’ discovery and trial preparation work, and helping track the case throughout its lifespan. And if the file goes to court, the company can rely on having an experienced trial lawyer with full knowledge of the file who’s ready to hit the ground running in the courtroom.
Lawyers can learn from this service in a couple of ways. First, that unbundling and isolating elements of legal services can be valuable, and offered as a commodity unto themselves. In McClanahan’s vision, we can also see the roles of the trusted advisor and the experienced trial lawyer being packaged together. Another take-away is how it targets a segment of the intended audience: corporate counsel who, for any of various reasons, may not be excited about the idea of setting up offshore offices or using outsourcing services. This firm has created a branded service to appeal to that perspective—and it promises to help clients contain costs while providing quality representation. I call that an excellent concept.
Steve Matthews is principal of Stem Legal Web Enterprises, providing Web expertise for the legal profession. He is a member of Law Practice ’s Editorial Board and blogs at www.stemlegal.com/strategyblog.