More and more, litigators in private practice are noticing a trend of larger clients keeping less complicated litigation matters in-house in an effort to control costs. In a recent article in Canadian Lawyer, writer Jennifer Brown examines this trend that is changing the nature of the relationship between in-house lawyers and outside counsel, as firms seek new ways of advising and supporting those clients. Gillian Scott, a partner in Osler’s Litigation Group whose practice focuses on client relations and business development, provides insight on the forms this new work can take.
Gillian refers to a shift over the last 10 years where clients and their external counsel, more than ever, “really have to invest in the front end of a discussion about where everyone wants to go and what the options are and what are the costs.”
She goes on to offer examples of how litigators are challenged to use their expertise in “non-traditional ways” and explores different initiatives the firm has pursued to respond to clients’ evolving needs, including sitting down with clients to determine how in-house and external counsel can work together on a litigation matter, providing assistance through process-mapping software and even offering “boot camp” sessions where in-house litigators from the firm’s clients come to Osler for skills development in areas like arguing a motion or conducting a cross-examination.
“Some might say, ‘Are you not training people to eat your lunch?’” Gillian explains that if businesses are going that way, and want to do more or parts of their litigation in-house, then Osler wants “to be able to support that and be a resource to them so that when the issues they are dealing with reach a level of complexity that they can’t deal with in-house, they will have seen us as supporting their initiatives and their needs all along and will hopefully also invest in us when they have complex litigation.”