Outside Counsel Guidelines are here to stay, but most firms cannot comply
PITTSBURGH, PA December 4, 2019 — Bellefield Systems, the providers of the fastest path to revenue through its time entry and compliance solutions and the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) announce the results of the 1st Annual Law Firm Leader Survey on Outside Counsel Guidelines (“Survey”), designed—for the first time ― to measure the impact of Outside Counsel Guidelines (OCG), e-billing and billing compliance on law firms. 198 unique law firms participated in the survey, including 20% of the Am Law 200. The data illustrates that Outside Counsel Guidelines are here to stay ― as well as the industrywide disconnect impairing firms’ effective management of them.
The Survey results identify that the majority of law firms (51%) do not have staff to effectively manage outside counsel guidelines. The improvement firms most desire, however, is not more staff but better technology in order to comply with outside counsel guidelines (45.07%). Today, the majority of firms leverage mainly email or filing in the DMS as a form of communicating guidelines to attorneys and require no acknowledgement receipt. In fact, 23% of firms have no process in place at all, and the majority of lawyers, industrywide, (56%) do not know what is in the guidelines.
Without the appropriate people, processes and technology in place inside of law firms, the internal disconnect is a natural consequence, and the associated sentiment trend is negative. Most responding firms report that OCG have made it more difficult to communicate with clients (40.25%), despite their intended use, which is to improve it. Even more firms report that they believe clients change the rules and guidelines without informing the firm (46.54%), and the majority of firms overall (63.52%) have pushed back on guidelines.
As other industry surveys such as The Citi Private Bank Law Firm Group 2019 Client Advisory are advising firms to focus on 100% invoice acceptance strategies across operations in 2020 as collection cycles increase and realization continues to dwindle amid recession forecasts, it is clear firms cannot sustain the strategy of writing off noncompliance.
The Survey, therefore, identifies key opportunities where law firms can seal disconnects and provides recommendations to help firms operationalize compliance.
Gabriela Isturiz, President of Bellefield, comments: “The operational and financial pain of outside counsel guidelines has been challenging firms for some time. Firms have been needing this data to see where the disconnects are and how to solve them. We are thrilled by the overwhelming participation and response ― but even more so, we are honored and proud to deliver these insights firms so desperately need to make better business decisions. Outside Counsel Guidelines are here to stay ― we look forward to helping firms meet the challenge.”
Oliver Yandle, JD, CAE, Executive Director, for the Association of Legal Administrators, adds, “Compliance with Outside Counsel Guidelines has been a significant challenge for law firms for some time now, and the survey results bear this out. We hope the recommendations included in this report provide firms with the insights they need to better meet and exceed client expectations in this area.”
To request your copy of the Law Firm Leader Survey on Outside Counsel Guidelines, go here.
About Bellefield Systems & iTimekeep
Bellefield provides the fastest path to revenue by removing barriers to time entry for attorneys and law firms. Through the iTimekeep platform, Bellefield brings better timekeeping to any law firm or professional services firm by increasing attorney engagement, providing real-time compliance with outside counsel guidelines and enabling firms to manage their time entry policies. In an area that was long disregarded and accepted as a “cost of doing business,” Bellefield’s innovations are bringing about efficiencies that allow firms to achieve the best timecard inventory, leading to less rejections, increased compliance and maximum client satisfaction.
Bellefield was founded with one simple (yet powerful) purpose: create better timekeepers. iTimekeep ranks No. 1 as the most adopted Mobile (and anywhere) Time Entry solution for attorneys for seven consecutive years. Bellefield’s founding members include the former founders of eBillingHub (now Thomson Reuters™), Gabriela Isturiz and Daniel Garcia and software veteran, John Kuntz. Bellefield Systems is an independent, privately held company headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. To learn more, visit www.bellefield.com.
About the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA)
ALA is focused on the delivery of cutting-edge management and leadership products and services to the global legal community. It identifies and provides solutions to the most critical strategic and operational challenges its members and customers face today and prepares them for the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow. For more information on ALA, visit alanet.org.