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Knowledge Management and the ACC Value Challenge: ILTA Conference Discussion

10 Aug

Post By David Hobbie, ILTA KM PG

Conference is just two short weeks away.  There’s been some great conversation on this blog following John Albers’ guest post on Making An Impossible Engagement Possible, about a crowdsourced session on Monday August 22, and a lot already happening on Twitter and, now Google+ as well.  There will be a few more posts here about KM track sessions before conference, this being the first.

The last session of the KM track, “KM Helps Meet the ACC Value Challenge,” is taking place Wednesday August 24th at 3:30 PM in room “Delta C,” immediately before a cocktail reception sponsored by Recommind that will be in the same room.  No ogling the beers during our session please.  The Twitter hashtag for this session is #KMPG6.

The formal description:

The Association for Corporate Counsel (ACC) has challenged law firms to better understand their clients’ business, be more efficient in their work, be more effective in training junior lawyers, and better budget and manage costs. Find out how knowledge management can help achieve these goals.

The panelists are Mary Panetta of Crowell & Moring, Jeffrey Brandt of Clearspire, and Thomas Wisinski of Haynes Boone.

I’ll be moderating, and providing an introduction to the ACC Value Challenge;  then, because this is such a potentially broad topic, we’ll be asking the audience to self-select into one of three discussion groups, which will carry on at the same time.  (This means you might have to move if you find yourself in a section of the room that will cover a topic you don’t care for as much as that in another section of the room.)

The three topics:

1.  Communication About Financial Information (discussion led by Mary)

One of the key values or goals of the challenge is enhanced communication between clients and firms about the goals and status (particularly but not exclusively monetary status) of matters.  What is KM’s role currently in enhancing client communication?  What should it be?

2. Communication Through Social Collaboration Tools (Jeff)

Another approach might be to “socialize” the work on the matter, such that activity like adding a document to a wiki platform kicks off a notification of a change.  Wikis also allow the team working on the matter to collaboratively develop status reports.  How can collaboration tools help internal teams add more value?  How can collaboration tools enhance communications and work relations between clients and law firms?

3.  “Core KM” and Enhanced Value (Tom)

The ACC Value challenge calls for the greater value to clients in part through creating greater incentives for more efficient legal work.  Substantive KM resources are an obvious way that matters teams can work more efficiently, but they can be hard (read:  expensive) to create and challenging to maintain.  How can firms overcome that challenge?  Is it possible to share the cost of value creation through “traditional” KM with the client?  When is the best time to invest in such resources?

After the three sets of discussions, we will resume “general session” and bring back to the whole audience the primary thoughts and lessons expressed in the sub-sessions.

I look forward to seeing you there and to your contributions to the discussion.


Making An Impossible Engagement Possible

26 Jul

Guest Post by John Alber, Strategic Technology Partner at Bryan Cave LLP

At the ILTA Conference in Nashville, at 1 PM on Monday August 22, Ayelette Robinson, Rudy DeFelice and I will be conducting a session called “Making An Impossible Engagement Possible.” It will be unlike most other sessions because it is our intention to crowdsource the content and run the session as a highly interactive Bar Camp.

We are beginning that process with a problem statement posted here. Our hope is to enlist a wide audience in the creative process of solving this problem and to conduct the preliminary brainstorming discussions in this forum, on Twitter and in a number of other social media venues. For Twitter, we’ll use the hash tags #ILTA11 #ORG2, which tie to the session number at conference. We’ll net up all the crowdsourced material during the session. It should be fun and informative.

Now, on to the problem statement. It’s derived from some very real engagements faced by firms around the country:

Your firm has had a long relationship with a major financial institution–Mega Mega Bank. As a consequence of the housing bubble bursting and the ensuing recession, the bank is dealing with a number of defaulted consumer and business loans. It’s facing hundreds or even thousands of lawsuits. Each suit is, on average, not a major matter, ranging from a few thousand to a few hundreds of thousands of dollars at risk. But collectively, they pose a significant expense to Mega Mega Bank.

Rather than asking the law firms that serve it for price estimates to do the lawsuits, the bank has set a not-to-exceed price for each suit. That price is extraordinarily aggressive. It is a fraction of the average your firm has been charging for such suits to date, and you regard your teams working on the suits as already quite lean, leveraged and efficient.

Your firm views the business with Mega Mega Bank as strategic and it has decided to do a portfolio of some hundreds of cases at the price proposed by the bank. The lawyers, project managers and technologists who will assist in handling these matters do not, at present, have any firm ideas how they will do the work to a high quality standard while, at the same time, controlling costs so as to make the engagements economically feasible.

Your job is to work with others on the team to find a way, or many ways, to accomplish high quality work at a much lower cost than has previously been possible. The firm will invest as necessary to preserve the relationship–within reason. But time is of the essence. The longer the team does business the old way, the more money the firm will lose.

What steps can the firm take immediately to meet its goals here? What steps can it take over the medium term? What technologies and process improvements can be brought to bear? What can the firm do to increase the likelihood of success? In thinking about this, don’t limit yourself to your area of expertise. Cross boundaries. And don’t limit yourself to conventional solutions. If a conventional solution worked already, the client wouldn’t be pressuring your firm for radical innovations.

We’re eager to hear your thoughts and suggestions for solving this problem. Provide your input and begin the conversation in the Comments section here, or via Twitter by including #ILTA11 #ORG2 in your tweet.




It Takes a Village To Deliver Effective AFAs

18 Jul

Guest post by Pam Woldow, Partner and General Counsel at Edge International, Inc.

On Wednesday, August 24th, at 9:15 am, you are invited to learn how key players from Finance, IT, Knowledge Management, Business Development, Professional Development, Legal Project Management, Records, and other disciplines can join forces to help their law firms optimize success with AFAs – Alternative Fee Arrangements.

AFAs are hot, and getting hotter. Time-based billing is under attack from clients who judge results on the basis of the value conferred, not the time spent conferring it. Lawyers locked into 1/10-hour billable increments will have to adapt to new ways of charging for legal services or risk being left in the competitive dust.

The AFA “drivers” are clear: tighter client budgets…pressure to curb legal costs…increasing client demands for greater predictability of legal spend. Unfortunately, many firms find themselves in the dark when trying to master all the different kinds of AFAs or to craft AFAs that make clients smile while preserving firm profitability.

It requires a “village” of multi-disciplinary professionals to make the most of AFAs, and ILTA has convened an all-star panel to show you how to create your own AFA village. Three of the top experts in legal information and management, Tom Baldwin (Reed Smith), Toby Brown (Vinson & Elkins) and Pam Woldow (Edge International) will discuss best practices for drawing on the diverse expertise of internal firm experts to craft, implement and manage AFAs.

The focus will be on practical and effective tactics and techniques for tapping essential information and developing practical approaches to creating fee structures that meet both client needs and firm profitability targets.

For more information, visit the official ILTA Conference website page: It Takes a Village to Deliver Effective AFAs or visit the Conference Overview Page, where you can see detailed session agendas and read about the five other Knowledge Management Peer Group track sessions.

Twitter hash tags: #KMPG3 / #ILTA11