Clients seek outside litigation counsel with effective project management and relationship skills, say Linda Plumpton and Crawford Smith in Lexpert

Retooling Litigation

March 08, 2010

To build an outstanding litigation department in today's business climate, law firms need to do more than attract excellent advocates. They need to find litigators who are also adept at strategic thinking, client communication, case management and team-building.

"Attracting and growing great advocates was enough to maintain and build a top-flight litigation department or boutique 20 years ago," says Linda Plumpton. "That’s not the case now."

Even junior associates have to learn management skills at an early stage, says Linda. "Clients are prepared to accept less hands-on control. So instead of doing basic tasks, associates will be responsible for managing the third-party providers who are doing the jobs they used to do."

Effective project management is a big part of the solution to the value equation clients are seeking. But the degree to which that will entail a reliance on outsourcing – in the sense of sending work normally done by lawyers, such as document review, to third-party providers – remains to be seen.

"Outsourcing is not a one-size-fits-all solution," says Crawford Smith. "But law firms need to have relationships in place so they can provide their clients with options. These relationships include outsourcing e-discovery to varying degrees, hiring contract lawyers and, if need be, project managers."

Read the full article here.

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