Despite 20 years of talk about the death of the billable hour, automation of commodity work, the use of project management principles and more, a group of 25 General Counsel have openly admitted that they still don’t know what works best.

The 25 General Counsel of well-known, major companies have published an open letter announcing that they will collaborate on an evidence-based project to uncover answers about best practices for both in-house departments and law firms.

The open letter includes the following statement:

In our view, one reason the industry has struggled to innovate is that we don’t know which in-house and law firm management approaches work best. For instance, many of us have created preferred provider panels – but do they achieve the results we’re seeking? And what makes panels thrive? We all seem to be moving toward value billing – but does a flat fee arrangement impact service quality or the level of talent assigned to the work? Related, do firms that charge the most deliver better service and expertise? What about the in-house practice of sharing performance evaluations with firms – does it yield meaningful benefits? And does the law firm trend toward legal project management deliver better efficiency and results?

and also:

… [law] firm leaders are making structural, growth, technology, and market-entry decisions that turn on assumptions about what clients want. We believe that, working together, we can provide a helpful road map, suggesting which practices and innovations lead to positive results and strong relationships. Through better information, we hope to move the profession forward.

Read more about this initiative at

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