Large purchasers of legal services—which are almost always large corporations—are demanding more control over the legal services they purchase. This article says that BP (British Petroleum) “is demanding access to key billing and financial information held by its external lawyers as part of a review of the energy giant’s global technology requirements.” BP will appoint a Functional Strategy Director to interface with its law firms. That’s the kind of input control you’d expect any large industrial company would demand from any of its industrial suppliers. But it’s something new for law firms.
For example, BP says that it use the information to “ensure that its external lawyers are getting the right level of supervision without too much partner involvement.” Traditionally, those decisions have largely been the prerogative of the law firms. That is changing. Of course, law firms will continue to have input on those issues, but as the market continues to transform the guild, law firms will need to develop new ways to protect and assert their traditional values.