Last year the US-based Association of Corporate Counsel launched its ACC Value Challenge (see attached PDF for more details) which aims to help inhouse lawyers get a better deal from the external law firms they use. The scheme also includes a value index that lets counsel rate firms of a scale of  1-to-5 on a range of legal and business skills (the latter including such factors as efficiency & process management, predictable cost/budget skills and responsiveness/communication).

So far we've only encountered one vendor embracing this concept, namely Bighand North America where CEO Steve Butterworth had this to say “The ACC Value Challenge is another indicator that the legal marketplace is changing. Corporate legal departments are looking for more value for their business from outside counsel and, as a result, firms are having to get more done, in less time and at lower costs. Technology plays a key role in the ACC Value Challenge, with corporate counsel asking law firms to use technology to their mutual benefit.

“Technologies like BigHand are being seen as instrumental in achieving greater efficiencies and facilitating cost reductions, both key objectives in remaining profitable in today’s market and meeting the ACC Value Challenge. McAngus Goudelock & Courie LLC, based in Columbia, SC, is a good example of a firm putting this into action having added 35 new timekeepers and only 2 additional support staff since rolling out BigHand last year, resulting in a dramatic improvement in ratios and a significant reduction in overhead costs for the firm.”