Legal expense management news for November 9, 2012

Do the fees spent with BigLaw for negotiations over complex M&A terms add value to deals? A new study indicates “that the extensive legal negotiations over deal terms add little to no value to mergers beyond the financial bargain…” You can download the paper here – the authors believe that “the results suggest that M&A lawyers are fixated on the wrong problems by focusing too much on negotiating “contingent closings” that allow clients to call off a deal, rather than “contingent consideration” that compensates clients for closing deals that are less advantageous than expected. This approach can enable M&A lawyers to protect clients against the effects of the clients’ own managerial hubris in pursuing mergers that may (and often do) fall short of expectations.”

The U.S. Trustee’s office has updated its proposed law firm fee guidelines. You can access the draft guidelines here. In-house leaders, do you think they will increase “accountability and transparency” or lead lawyers and clients to be too focused on “nickels and dimes”?

Meanwhile, a U.S. Magistrate slashes BigLaw rates and criticizes “sloppy billing practices” in a sanctions order in a major IP case. GC’s, are these very detailed comments consistent with your experiences?

Law department leaders, how do you view law firm networks of affiliated “best friends”? Would a standards document affect your use of these networks?

Panel news from the U.K. – homebuilder cuts its panel in half; a major retailer “will review the company’s external law firm relationships in early 2013, with the creation of a law firm panel one option under consideration…”; and a construction company seeks “to save up to a third of its external legal spend by packaging certain areas of work and tendering it out to the lowest bidder.”

In-house leaders, how much do you rely on the ratings and rankings of law firms and lawyers published annually by Chambers and others? My friend Mark Brandon has a good “inside baseball” look at how these publications are compiled and what they really mean.

A practical checklist for alternative fee engagement letters for litigation matters, including structures, staffing and assumptions.

If wiki’s become an acceptable form of legal citation, will you view law firm charges for on-line legal research in a different light?

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