Peer to Peer Magazine

March 2011

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Page 28 of 111

SMART MOVES Technology Meets the Value Challenge face-to-face contact in the delivery of professional services. This, along with the downturn of the economy over the past three years, has driven consumers of legal services to squeeze existing pricing structures, and demand greater value and transparency. Altman Weil’s “Law Firms in Transition” survey, conducted in 2009 and 2010, confirmed the perception that pricing structures have continued to evolve. Tom Clay, a principal consultant at Altman Weil, concluded: H “The primary impact on law firms of the recent recession will be a greater focus on efficiency and productivity driven by client demand for cost control.” A power shift has occurred, and firms that want to thrive in the new regime must participate ¬and contribute to its design and function. The winning firms will be the ones who deliver services better, faster and at a lower cost. THE CHALLENGE The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is “the world’s largest organization serving the professional and business interests of attorneys who practice in the legal departments of corporations, associations and other private-sector organizations around the globe.” In 2009, the ACC announced their “Value Challenge” to its 26,000 members. The challenge was designed to help corporate counsel initiate constructive discussion within their law firms, so they could begin to understand how the value of legal services can be improved. 30 Peer to Peer istorically, consumer access to legal services has been limited to face time (where complex legal matters are concerned). We all know that the Internet and social media have diluted consumer need and expectation for According to the ACC’s website: “Believing that solutions must come from a true dialog and a willingness to change things on both sides, the ACC Value Challenge is based on the concept that firms can greatly improve the value of what they do, reduce their costs to corporate clients and still maintain strong profitability.” The concept of the Value Challenge began as a dialogue between corporate counsel and law firm leaders, as both parties were feeling the impact of the spiraling economic downturn. The result was a set of guidelines, called the “Covenant with Counsel,” designed to help structure relationships with an emphasis on the expectation that law firms would have to focus on the same efficiency and productivity improvements Tom Clay predicted. INCORPORATING TECHNOLOGY What does technology have to do with this? It would be easy to say that technology will play an integral role in helping law firms deliver value in the Value Challenge; unfortunately, that argument too often falls on deaf ears. However, the Covenant with Counsel goes one step further and actually suggests a specific initiative, which states that a law firm should use technology to the mutual benefit of both organizations. With other references to efficiency and good process management, technology has the opportunity to be one of the key facilitators in meeting the Value Challenge. MCANGUS GOUDELOCK & COURIE LLC: A CASE STUDY One firm that has successfully taken up the challenge is McAngus, Goudelock & Courie, LLC (MGC), a leading litigation firm based in South Carolina. With six offices, MGC has a high concentration of business in insurance defense. Several of the trends emerging in the law firm-

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