Three Tips For Getting The Best Budget From Your Outside Counsel
Here are a few tips to getting more realistic numbers out of your outside counsel:
Use a Detailed Budget Format and Compare Apples-to-Apples. Pick a detailed task-based budgeting format that leaves no room for “BS” and ask all your counsel and prospective counsel to follow it. This may mean your initial budget proposals will cause “sticker shock”; however, they will also be more accurate.
Identify and Quantify Cost-Driving Variables. It is true that you can’t predict what will happen in litigation. But when the anticipated scope changes, it generally means there are more of a certain task than the budget assumed: more depositions, more gigabytes, more motions, etc. If your lawyers clearly identify their assumptions about these variables and quantify the average cost-per-task, you will be able to predict how changing circumstances will affect the bottom line (e.g., 10 unexpected deposition notices = $100k; 20 extra gigabytes of documents = $300k).
Insist on Frequent Updates. Changed circumstances should not lead to blank checks. Your lawyers should be updating their budgets when the schedule gets set, the rulings come in, the discovery gets served, etc. — that’s the best way to know if they are maintaining efficiency and keeping average costs-per-task down no matter what happens. To make this happen, schedule a cost-management call with your relationship partner every few weeks and get an updated budget before each call.
Digitory Legal has built these considerations and more into its easy-to-use litigation budgeting tool. Our detailed reports, average costs-per-task, and easily updated framework is the perfect solution for clients who are tired of hearing “but it’s litigation...“
Catherine Krow is the founder and CEO of Digitory Legal. She is an experienced general litigator and trial lawyer and was a Partner in the San Francisco office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe from 2007-2014.