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Litigation: Drafting and implementing effective litigation management guidelines

Especially in complex litigation, agreeing on billing guidelines can improve the quality of legal services

Litigation management guidelines are intended to provide guidance and structure to a law firm, particularly in its handling of complex litigation. Many of the litigation guidelines crafted by clients are derived from their significant experience in the management of high profile and costly litigation. The guidelines attempt to articulate commonsense, cost-effective principles of litigation management which, in many cases, will inure to the benefit of both the law firm and the client.

The reporting and pre‑approval expectations contained in most corporate litigation management guidelines aim to keep the client abreast of critical case developments. This is vitally important during the initial investigation stages of a large matter where a myriad of individuals, such as in-house counsel, outside counsel and investigators, may be involved in evaluating the nature and extent of the underlying claims. Comprehensive standards of communication can help organize and streamline the initial investigation and minimize duplication of effort.

In general terms, billing guidelines memorialize the economic relationship between the client and retained counsel. These guidelines tend to cover the costs of handling the defense and attempt to prevent exposure to the client to what might be perceived as unreasonable or unnecessary fees. Experience has shown that well‑drafted litigation management guidelines successfully control litigation costs and define the parties’ relationship.


Contributing Author

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David McMahon

David McMahon is the Managing Partner in Barger & Wolen LLP’s San Francisco office. His practice focuses on large complex litigation. He has worked on...

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