The latest tool that corporate legal departments are using to curb outside counsel costs is something that TGI Friday’s and other restaurant chains have been using for years to maintain their level of service — evaluation cards.
That’s our latest technology, said Matt Miller, vice president and deputy general counsel of Groupon, at a Big Law Business and Catalyst conference in Chicago, “Controlling Litigation Costs — Managing Your Legal Department for Success.”
The scorecards, as Miller called them, will evaluate law firms’ performance on things like cost and also inform firms how they performed relative to other law firms that Groupon used. They’re designed to give law firms a better sense of what they did well and where they under performed, he said.
“Otherwise, the way [law firms] find out they did a great job is we call them again in two years and say, ‘we’ve got another case for you,’” said Miller.
Miller said he was just the third attorney at Groupon when he joined in 2011, and has helped build it into a legal department of around two dozen attorneys around the world. The company, which is an online e-commerce market site, posted $3.1 billion in revenue last year.
In recent years, it has been involved in patent litigation with IBM, faced a class-action over the expiration date of some of the vouchers it sold, a lawsuit related to its initial public offering price, among other litigation. Attorneys who have appeared in federal courts on behalf of Groupon over the past year hail from large firms such as DLA Piper, Dorsey & Whitney, Fenwick & West, McDermott Will & Emery, Seyfarth Shaw and Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, according to a search on Bloomberg Law’s Litigation Analytics.
The scorecards, which haven’t been rolled out yet, will also help Groupon control its costs by providing a way to inform counsel of ways they can improve, such as delivering briefs in time for Groupon’s in-house lawyers to review them.
“They can fix that instead of a problem getting worse and worse,” said Miller, who said law firms often have no idea how many hours they’re putting into a brief until it’s pointed out to them.
The scorecards show law firms where they fell on a curve — just like being back in law school, Miller said.
Miller didn’t have a copy of the scorecard on-hand, but if you come across one or know of other in-house initiatives, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org .