As the global economic crisis continues to upend how law firms do business, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey L.L.P. has responded by adapting and enhancing long-held firm practices to create a timely value proposition – Squire Sanders Partnering for Worldwide ValueSM.
“We know our clients are feeling unprecedented pressure to obtain the best value for their legal service investment,” said Squire Sanders Chair James J. Maiwurm. “We get the message and are well positioned to respond by virtue of our worldwide platform, culture of collaboration and partnering with clients, and uniform technology backbone. And for the past six months we have been reviewing our best practices and making further investments in technology and training. We are now ready to launch a multifaceted program that has but a single focus – our clients and their business goals.”
Partners Susan M. DiMickele and Patrick D. Cornelius co-chair the Partnering for Worldwide ValueSM initiative and lead the firm’s Value Partner TeamSM, which drives the firm’s efforts to define and deliver maximum value to clients. The team includes firmwide practice and office leaders, senior nonlawyer professionals and partners from varied geographic backgrounds and wide-ranging experience. The initiative is detailed in a white paper just published by the firm.
“The Value Partner Team personifies our commitment to a new model for providing legal services. We are examining all aspects of our service delivery – across industry groups, practice groups and regions – for best practices and alignment with client needs and goals. The result is a value proposition that makes us even more effective business counsel for our clients,” DiMickele said. “The team builds on the firm’s long-held philosophy of acting, operating and thinking as a ‘one-firm firm,’ rather than a cohort of practice- or office-based profit centers,” she added.
“This firm’s culture of collaboration has always emphasized high quality, appropriate staffing and being absolutely sure our service is aligned with client goals,” Cornelius explained. “And in this economic climate, it means doing even more for clients through our technology investment, knowledge management, improvement of practice processes and creative fee structures.”
“We have adopted a number of tools and processes to support this effort,” Cornelius continued. “For example, we use secure intranet areas to support worldwide collaboration efforts focused on client, practice and industry efforts. In our transactional practices tools such as client-specific schedules and templates enable us to ensure coordinated action by lawyers and teams, sometimes working on dozens of documents or projects for a client simultaneously across borders and practice specialties. We can maximize staffing across locations, access shared work product and develop precedent banks that increase efficiency and reduce costs for our clients.”
The firm also offers “virtual in-house” staffing to clients that have large and experienced in-house legal teams. Squire Sanders lawyers discuss client staffing plans and then suggest firm resources who will be valuable additions to the in-house team.
“We assign Squire Sanders lawyers whose specialized experience ensures they can promptly offer clients effective advice easily implemented by the in-house lawyers,” Cornelius said. “We try to staff our virtual in-house teams with lawyers who know the client’s preferred approach to matters and the client’s typical document forms. We found this to be a simple, straightforward solution creating a more integrated, collaborative relationship with our clients.”
DiMickele said the firm’s litigation practice is also developing several innovative processes. One example is mandatory case management plans and budgets as well as periodic detailed case reviews by senior litigation leadership.
“The case management process outlines client goals and strategies and then identifies the best litigation tools needed to act on the strategies, as well as assess any potential risks associated with the goals and strategies,” she said. “As cases progress, litigation practice leadership and others periodically meet with case team leaders – at no additional cost to clients – to discuss case themes, staffing, budget and to ensure client concerns and questions are addressed. We consider this additional review a great opportunity to cross-check quality control, confirm the case team includes the most appropriate mix of legal talent and experience, and ensure that matters are being handled within budget.”
Alex Shumate, the firm’s global managing partner for regions, said the initiative includes a formal endorsement of the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Value Challenge. “The ACC’s Value Challenge represents the collective voice of many of our clients,” Shumate said. “Our endorsement of the Challenge demonstrates that we take seriously our commitment to meeting – and exceeding – our clients’ expectations.”
Maiwurm added, “We’re embracing this challenge because we see the opportunity to be proactive in making clients comfortable with our business model and its consistency with their interests. We see this as an opportunity to be leaders in creating ‘win-win’ scenarios rather than something to shy away from. We welcome dialogue with clients on these matters of common interest.”
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Squire, Sanders & Dempsey L.L.P.