What’s better, a bigger pie or a bigger slice? 

I am a legal technology consultant by profession but an economist at heart. One reason I did not practice law is a sense that too much is about slicing rather than growing the pie. Legal tech appealed to me because it can grow the pie by shrinking the cost to society of providing legal services.

So I found bemusing The Early Bird Gets the Discount (Corporate Counsel, June 2007). It reports that Circuit City gets a small discount from outside counsel by paying bills early. Not bad but from the bigger economic perspective, it just changes how the pie is sliced.

Meanwhile, Circuit City misses a pie growing opportunity. “When Circuit City’s law department receives an invoice, it is date-stamped by a legal assistant who reviews it line by line to make sure all charges comply with company guidelines.” E-billing should take care of that task, not a person. Granted, e-billing is not free. Properly executed, however, e-billing can help law departments identify low cost law firms, letting the general counsel select the most efficient firms. And that grows the pie. (And relieves a person of a tedious task as well.)