Feature Story BY DOMENICK C. DICICCO JR., J.D.
Objective Checks & Balances for Legal Services
in the efficient delivery of legal services.
The LAT’s charge should be a review of
compliance against the company’s best
practices and a value audit—that is, if the
charges and time reasonable and equal to
the value of the activity.
A properly run LAT will pay for itself
year-after-year by assuring that:
E The company’s legal policy is followed.
E The company’s legal billing guidelines
E There is alignment between counsel
and the company’s legal goals.
E The company is paying for legal services equal to the value received.
It is critical to the effectiveness of the
LAT and the corresponding LMG, BP,
and SLAs that the LAT have good metrics
to assess their own performance. Here,
the maxim of Ductus Exemple1 is a must
in order to give the LAT credibility as well
as being good management.
The legal audit team (LAT) is critical to the competence of any litigation management and corporate legal function. The LAT function breathes meaning into litigation management guidelines (LMG), service level agreements (SLAs), and best practices (BPs). Too many litigation management programs amount to nothing more than the creation of LM guidelines, SLA,
or best practices that have little or
no meaning in practice. The LAT
serves to make sure the company’s litigation management program has real world impact.
A quality LAT also serves as a
quality assurance check against
the company’s legal management
policies and can serve to identify new areas of opportunities
A good legal audit team
and accompanying process
will yield findings heavy
on non-compliance and of
questionable value of the
files it audits. F Domenick C. DiCicco Jr.
Anatomy of a Team
The LAT team must have two traits to
be both credible and successful:
J The team must be staffed by attorneys
who have practiced for at least five years.
J The team must be independent of the
department whose portfolio is being audited.
To further elaborate on point one, neither the law firms nor the units who retained the law firms being audited will believe the process is credible if the audit is
done by either non-attorneys or someone
with a law degree who never practiced.
This is a fair point and one common in
other professions. You would not have a
doctor peer review the work of another
doctor if the peer review doctor had a
medical degree but never practiced. Your
audit team should begin its contribution
to the organization with credibility.
A Systematic Audit Process
Is An Effective One
Many organizations conduct legal
audits of their firms very infrequently.