Legal expense management news for May 2, 2014

Two new tools for billing rate comparisons. One is designed for use by corporate counsel to benchmark outside counsel rates, providing “data on matter costs, hourly rates and alternative fee arrangements.” The other is aimed at helping BigLaw “slice and dice financial data aggregated from other firms so that they can compare their performance against their competitors.”

The U.S. Supreme Court issued two opinions on fee-shifting in favor of prevailing parties in “exceptional cases” under the Patent Act, making “it substantially easier for prevailing litigants to seek, and district courts to award, attorney’s fees under § 285.”

E-discovery special masters in Federal district court in Pennsylvania – in place since 2010 – is a “program where parties cover the costs of the special master usually results in substantial cost savings to those parties.”

In the same spirit as our Right-Tasking philosophy, a large tech company is using technology and a “follow the sun” model to reduce the time spent on high volume/low complexity tasks.

U.K. panel review news: Big bank finalizes panel for deals where the customer pays the law firm (a “customer-pay panel”). “The bank has split its panel into 12 spots with each divided into five or six value bases. Some firms have won work with a price tag of up to £25,000 while others will be given the chance to work on mandates of over £1m.” And a larger grocer has finalized its real estate panel.

Another angle on alternative legal services: is visualization a better way to do legal research?

The ABA Journal takes a deep dive into the world of the venture capitalists who are funding legal services start-ups. “Venture capitalists are skeptical of the upheaval underway in BigLaw, with uncertainty around changes in pricing and ownership rules as well as concern about efficiency and access to justice. So instead, VCs are investing in the legal technology vendors that are filling in some of those holes.”

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