Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This is creative? Innovative? Can't you do better than that?

Julie Kay's "Companies Get Creative to Cut Legal Costs" at Unless you've been living under a rock, you're well aware of the ever-increasing pressure on in-house counsel to reduce legal costs. So the fact that Microsoft and H-P are outsourcing their work to India, using solos instead of BigLaw whenever they can, and negotiating alternative and fixed fee deals isn't particularly newsworthy. So why read this article? Two reasons. First, because there's an interesting discussion of just how important international skills and experience have become to global clients:
"When I started, everything I did ... all the regulatory work ... was centered in Washington,"
[Microsoft Corporate VP and Deputy GC Horacio] Gutierrez said. "Now the centers of power are Asia, Sao Paulo and Moscow. The majority of our revenue comes from outside the United States." 
That drives corporate counsel to hire lawyers who are multilingual and understand the cultural sensitivities of other countries, Gutierrez said.
But more importantly, because if H-P and Microsoft look at outsourcing, solo practitioners, and alternative and fixed fees as "innovative" and "creative," it's clear that they still measure the value of legal services by the cost of those services. Doesn't that leave room for the firm that is truly creative, truly innovative, truly interested in solving their clients' problems, whether they be obtaining patents across the globe, or managing a diverse team of 50 patent lawyers, or demonstrating to corporate that they are getting maximum value from their legal spend? Maybe that could be your firm.

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