[Legal Business Report] The Journey to Compliance: From Guidelines to Cash


[Legal Business Report] The Journey to Compliance: From Guidelines to Cash

In pursuit of heroic cost savings, corporate clients continue to “put the squeeze” on law firms via heavy-handed billing guidelines. Outside Counsel Guidelines (OCG) have become both the bane of their existence and the key to future competitiveness. While the billing component of OCG is the most complex and the most tangible means of enforcement, the scope of OCG has expanded to define the entire client relationship.

However, before your firm can leverage the latest methodologies for compliance, it’s important to first understand the compliance process. In other words, where does it begin and end? Which parties are required to participate, and when are they responsible for doing their part? How can compliance be scaled within the firm without relying on manual processes laced with human error?

We see the compliance process prevalent both upstream and downstream:

Step 1 – Contract Negotiation

Firms should avoid the assumption that OCG are non-negotiable or that open discussion with the client will harm a relationship. Investing time and resources during the negotiation of OCG will help avoid downstream expense. The confirmation and finalization of the client engagement is the kickoff of the compliance process within the firm. At this point, there are no secrets and the firm has written, and agreed-upon, guidelines. They just need to be implemented.

Step 2 – Delivery of Services

While it is tempting to view the step as a closed loop of execution and compensation, it is so much more. This is the part of the process where compliance goes into action – and where it can quickly go awry and become unmanageable. The firms that are most effective at managing OCG in this stage are diligent about engaging with attorneys and setting expectations about adhering to the guidelines and managing them in real time, as time is entered.

Step 3 – Invoicing and Payment

This could either be a nightmare or a dream process. If compliance is being managed upstream in the first two steps, there’s no reason step three has to be difficult. Since the billing department is not overwhelmed with inefficient, manual tasks, invoices are submitted with expedience and the firm is able to receive the maximum payment and realization rates for services rendered.

In our latest Legal Business Report, The Journey to Compliance: From Guidelines to Cash we take a closer look at the entire billing process and how firms can effectively manage OCG both upstream and downstream. We discuss common questions encountered at each stage, as well as the key stakeholders involved in each step, and technology that can be put in place to help you to achieve maximum compliance.