Things to Consider when Choosing a Local Appearance Counsel Provider
How can you benefit from the use of local appearance attorneys?
- Relegate the “routine” matters. Companies typically have retained counsel throughout the country. But as the client, you can require that law firms representing you identify types and categories of hearings that can be handled by local appearance attorneys. You want the law firms working on substantive matters, not the more routine hearings and matters. You will save thousands of dollars by relegating these matters to local counsel who don’t bill hourly, but on a flat rate.
- Local counsel is not appropriate for every case. Some matters are simply not appropriate for anyone other than the attorney of record to handle. You can easily identify which category of hearings for specific types of cases should be handled by appearance counsel. This also ensures better value for your legal spend.
- Engage CXOs in the decision-making. The decision to engage local counsel transcends the legal department. Working closely with the CFO, CTO, CLO and others, companies can realize substantial savings that go directly to the bottom line. The decision should include anyone involved in big picture, bottom line decisions.
- Integrate to realize efficiencies. Make sure the hearing coverage provider you partner with can integrate with your case management system. This will also allow your legal support staff to be more efficient and valuable by focusing on more substantive matters and less administrative, time consuming tasks.
- Think small, demand large. Many highly skilled, yet smaller, law firms and attorneys are looking for ways to grow their billable hours. Seek a local counsel provider partner with a national network of local attorneys.
- Require experience. Require attorneys that serve as local counsel to have at least three years of relevant experience; some will have a decade or more.
- Compliance platform? Local counsel service providers should conduct background checks, quarterly bar status verification checks, as well as other protective measures, including maintaining professional liability and malpractice insurance, to ensure you are protected.
- Seek secure IT solutions. To comply with state and federal privacy laws partner with a service provider that has a robust IT platform, documented policies and procedures, and a disaster recovery plan. All correspondence and documents for each reservation should be relayed and stored over a secure IT network.
- Get to know your local counsel. To be sure, you’ll start as strangers. But as professionals and partners, relationships will grow. Moreover, it’s incumbent upon the hiring attorney whether in-house or in a law firm to supervise, instruct and prepare appearance counsel just as they would an attorney from their own legal team. It stands to reason that the more you engage with and inform appearance counsel, the more you will view them as an extension of your legal team and your advocate.
Use of appearance counsel is becoming more accepted as law firms and in-house legal departments realize the efficiencies and value of partnering with an external provider to handle routine hearings. Companies continue to seek ways to get more value from their legal spend and law firms are able to allocate their personnel to their highest and best use. As the type and scope of alternative legal services expands, it’s important to find the right partner who specializes in the service you need.
Jonathan Broder is an attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and founder of VortexLegal.com. The company provides appearance counsel who appear in person and represent clients at hearings, mediations and depositions for other lawyers, law firms and in-house legal departments throughout the country. The company was established in 2010, works with over 1,100 law firms nationwide and their attorneys appeared at over 25,000 hearings annually.
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