Monday, October 20, 2008

How to Lower Those Outside Fees

The fifth suggestion in's recent article for in-house legal departments looking to cut costs is perhaps the best: paralegal support. Find a good paralegal, and make the investment:

Consider innovative paralegal or support strategies.

A great paralegal, whether that person is in-house or outside, can save significant amounts of fees. On the other hand, an unskilled or sloppy paralegal can make disastrous mistakes that can increase litigation costs several fold (particularly in the document retention area). Fight for the budget and invest in a top-notch in-house paralegal or legal support professional. Make sure that person has strong interpersonal skills, develops solid relationships with key managers and understands the business. Ask your outside counsel to be alert to training and development opportunities for your paralegal. (And, by the way, be aware of authority suggesting that it may be risky to classify paralegals as exempt rather than hourly workers.)

If you have a good paralegal and can spare the support, think about seconding him or her to work directly for the law firm during a busy period on your case. In one hard fought wage-and-hour certification battle involving dozens of declarations, I asked my client to assign its excellent paralegal to us for a two-week period. The paralegal assisted in reviewing witness declarations, obtaining signatures and working towards the filing. The assignment was a nice change of pace for her and also resulted in fee savings. And because she was working closely with company managers and employees, she developed relationships that were helpful when the assignment ended.


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