For attorneys representing institutional clients such as insurance companies and larger corporations, the billing excesses depicted in novels and films like “The Firm” and the golden days of practicing law as portrayed in television shows such as “L.A. Law” are anachronisms. Though many baby boomers and some Gen Xers practicing today may lament the change that has occurred in how legal services are delivered to such clients, a fair question arises: Is the profession better for it, and has the practice of law actually improved as clients have taken control of relationships with their attorneys?

Executive Summary

Today's institutional clients expect timely, effective reporting and thoughtful, substantive billing entries from their law firms. Here, litigation expert Timothy Sansone discusses the new communication model that promotes communication, collaboration, predictability, accountability and expectation management.

If better communication, collaboration, predictability and expectation management (on both sides of the relationship) have resulted from the change, the answer is yes.

This article discusses how institutional clients, largely using business-minded strategies and systems, have enhanced accountability in their relationships with their attorneys, causing the latter to become more business-minded as well—and better able to meet their ethical duties concerning diligence and communication. Of course, change is rarely easy and there are often winners and losers in the process, but lawyers and firms who have adapted over the years have experienced notable professional and economic success.

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