As I meet with corporate counsel around the country, there’s one theme that keeps repeating: “my legal expert fees are out of control – sky-rocketing – how can I better manage my expert expenses?” A recent article from the ABA Journal stated that the price for experts “can run to six figures. ‘An expert witness with excellent credentials can cost more than lawyers.’”
And it’s true, across the board (and across industries) we’re seeing legal expert costs out-pace other expense categories 4 to 1. In fact, this spring we conducted an in depth expense review for a client in the healthcare industry that reflected expert costs greater than all other expense categories combined.
Acuity Analytics expense analysis report
To illustrate the point further, I recently spoke to one in-house counsel who, even though her company has invested in an advanced e-billing and analytics tool, has been tracking all her experts’ costs on a spreadsheet, taking hours of her time each month. “It’s painful. But it’s absolutely necessary.” Her number one question to us was “how can Acuity help me manage this?”
Great question. So, over the next several months, I’m going to be taking a deep-dive into the world of experts and their rising fees – what’s driving the increase, whose pockets are getting hit the hardest, and most importantly, what tools are available to mitigate our clients’ overall spend. Is there a tipping point – a happy medium where spend is high enough to secure knowledgeable and persuasive experts, but low enough that the corporate executives don’t feel the need to hover. Do you really get more bang for your buck?
And in the meantime, I asked that same in house counsel to start considering a few questions as we craft a strategy for gaining control over legal expert fees:
- does she track previous use of experts?
- are there ways to leverage existing experts across her claims?
- does she require prior approval before experts are retained by outside firms?
- how can budgeting play a role?
- which of her local counsel manage their expert expenses most efficiently?
- what data would she like to see on a regular basis to ensure everything is running smoothly?
It should be an interesting project.
Robin Hill is the Director of Client Service and Support at Acuity. When not finding solutions for Acuity’s clients, she can be found doting on her adorable dog, Charlie, and cheering on her beloved Red Sox.