Reinventing the inside-outside relationship

January 13th, 2011 by Altman Weil

There’s so much angst these days about the billable hour, the inside-outside relationship and the elusive search for”value” that it’s nice to read a success story:

“A year ago, as the client-to-law firm conversation had fully entered its give-me-a-discount or give-me-death phase, The American Lawyer put Amy Schulman, Pfizer Inc.’s general counsel, on our cover. Fresh from a stint as an enormously successful DLA Piper litigation partner, Schulman had a different idea about how customers and lawyers should relate to each other. Building on work done at DuPont, at United Technologies Corporation, and by her Pfizer predecessors, she abandoned the billable hour, created an alliance of 19 law firms that would get a disproportionate share of her half-billion-dollar budget, and insisted that the lawyers find new ways of assessing the value of the work they did. All that, and save 15 percent off the top.

A year later, she’s made a few midcourse corrections, but she says that she’s even more convinced that Pfizer’s choice was the right one, both for her company and for the profession. To get the prurient detail out of the way: Schulman says that she hit her budget target and is busy fashioning another one for 2011. But more important, she says, is the progress that the alliance has made toward being a relationship-driven operation. Bigger than cost savings, the real goals are better legal service and protection. And that, she says, grows out of client and firms investing in each other, in guaranteeing work, in setting priorities, and holding each other accountable.”

Read it at The AmLaw Daily

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 13th, 2011 at 3:22 pm and is filed under Inside-Outside relationship, Alternative fees, Law Departments. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.