I recently commented on a Corporate Legal Times (July 2005) article on offshoring. An observation it makes about one of the challenges to offshoring – developing metrics – struck me as having broader applicability. 

From Overhyped, Underused, Overrated: The Truth About Legal Offshoring: “Be it domestic or overseas outsourcing, companies offshoring work need to set metrics by which to measure the performance of their service providers. This can be an agonizing part of any contracting process. But it’s the only way to ensure the work is handled successfully.” (emphasis added).

The article implies setting metrics is a barrier; I see it as an opportunity, if not a required best practice. Law departments should have metrics for many processes (including retaining outside counsel). And, arguably, many of the problems in and complaints about BigLaw stem from insufficient effort by law departments to measure and track. To be sure, setting metrics can be difficult, but “agonizing” seems to go overboard and miss the point of the often critical role of metrics. And the challenge is not limited to offshoring.

Of course, law firms that use technology effectively should be happy to see the wider-spread use of metrics by law departments as those metrics will likely reflect well on these firms.