Don't Be Afraid To Ask


Originally recorded on the Pricing Matters Podcast by Digitory Legal. Digitory Legal is now part of BigHand. Learn more here.

Aurelia Spivey, Marketing Consultant with BigHand, chats with Stephanie Corey, co-founder of UpLevel Ops, a consulting firm specializing in providing services for in-house legal departments and law firms.  UpLevel Ops provides a complete range of Legal Operations support, including IT solutions, Finance and Budget guidance, Talent Management and Development, Benchmarking, Best Practices and Metrics, and Outside Counsel Selection and Management.

Stephanie also founded and is a former executive member of the leading legal operations trade organization CLOC, Corporate Legal Operations Consortium.  She is a widely respected veteran in the Legal Ops field.

Most recently, Stephanie has served as the Chief of Staff and Senior Director of Legal Operations at Flex, the second-largest manufacturing company in the world.  She has spent the better part of her career providing value-added services to Legal Departments, including building and deploying critical infrastructure to enable them to meet their business priorities.  Her areas of expertise include Information Technology, System Implementations, Process Analysis and Improvements, Finance, Communications, and Administration.

Stephanie began her career at Merrill Lynch in Pennsylvania, and after relocating to California, she worked at Bailard, Biehl, and Kaiser, an investment firm in Foster City.  Once she decided to move into Corporate Finance, Stephanie took a position under the CFO, managing the Finance and Accounting Department at Provident Funding Mortgage Bank.

She later moved to Hewlett-Packard, where she was employed for eleven years as the head Legal Operations Manager, running a large IT and Finance Department. Her most recent role at HP was Chief of Staff to the General Counsel, responsible for managing the daily operations of the Legal Department, working closely with the General Counsel and his reports to develop the strategy for the delivery of technology, finance, and administrative solutions.

Stephanie holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Lehigh University and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Wilkes University.

Top three takeaways from this episode

  • Get the Data in Place. You need to understand what you are spending to be able to make educated pricing decisions.

  • Adopt a programmatic approach to outside counsel spend. Set your goals upfront and collaborate with your procurement team to help drive the process.

  • Billing guidelines are a tool for conversation. Don’t take an adversarial approach rather use the guidelines as an opportunity to partner with your law firms.

I think in order to have the best partnership you can with all of your law firms, you need to feel like what you're paying for is equal to the value that you're getting.

Podcast Transcript:

Stephanie Corey 
I think it goes back to exactly what you just said, that if you feel like you're paying too much or being taken advantage of, or you're not getting the value that you're paying for, that's a big problem.

Aurelia Spivey 
Welcome to Pricing Matters, a podcast by Digitory Legal. Digitory is a data analytics and cost management platform and service, bringing data-driven pricing and cost prediction to law. My name is Aurelia Spivey, and I will be your host as we speak to leaders who are making an impact in legal pricing, discuss market trends, and find out from them why pricing matters.

Welcome to the Pricing Matters podcast. Our guest this morning is Stephanie Corey. Steph is the co-founder of UpLevel Ops. Welcome to the program, Steph.

Stephanie Corey 
Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Aurelia Spivey 
You're most welcome. So I think it's always helpful for our listeners to hear a little bit about your background. So tell us about your journey in the illegal operations and pricing world.

Stephanie Corey 
Yeah, for sure. I started doing legal operations back in 1999. So a long time ago before it was really considered its own discipline. I came from a finance and economic kind of background. I was working in mortgage banking and prior to that, I had my brokerage licenses and I was working at a brokerage house. So I was kind of heading down that path, which I truthfully didn't love and a friend of mine told me about this role that was opened at HP, this new job that they posted, and it was called legal operations with a heavy focus on financial management. So they really wanted somebody to come in and get their arms wrapped around outside counsel firms. And so I thought, hey, I can do that, and it was reporting to the General Counsel, up to that point I didn't even really ever think about what does a general counsel do? Or what does the legal department do in-house? I never really worked with anybody in that capacity. And so I went in for the interview and got the job, and ended up spending 11 years in the legal department. When I took the role at HP, I thought, well, you know, I will work in the legal department here for two, three years. Since I'm not a lawyer there's probably not much I can do beyond that and then I'll move into one of the businesses. And as it turned out, there was plenty I could do and so I ended up growing up there. I was just a very young person when I started and really developed all my skills there. HP was such a great company to work for and they were really focused on training and taking care of employees. So I was very lucky. During my time there, I started the CLOC organization, the corporate legal operations consortium and I started realizing that there must be other people out there who are doing what I'm doing, and I want to find a way to share templates and what your RFP looks like. Have you got guidelines for law firms on how they should be engaging with you, et cetera. So we had our very first meeting, there were only about 12 or 13 of us, at the HP offices, way back when, and then I had a brief stint at VMware and then over to Flextronics, where I headed up ops there. I joined a good friend of mine who took the GC role. Then three years ago, he and I left our in-house jobs to start UpLevel Ops where we actually go around and help all kinds of companies stand up legal operations programs. And it's been definitely, the right thing, at the right time. We're staying very busy.

Aurelia Spivey 
Thank you for sharing that. I mean, I'm so excited to have you on the show. I think you're going to bring a great in-house perspective. To date, we've had a lot of pricing directors from law firms on the show, and I think they're going to really enjoy hearing your perspective as well. So, at the moment, as we were talking about before we started recording. We're recording this episode at a time when a number of counties in the bay area, where we both live, have been put in place shelter in place orders, and across the country, we're seeing a lot of restrictions and people working from home and the working landscape it is changing. And I think what we're calling it at the moment is the new normal. So I'd love to hear from you, any thoughts you have about how this new normal is going to impact the departments? And in turn, the law firms that they work with? And in the short, medium, and long term what views do you have on the impact that we're gonna see?

Stephanie Corey 
Yeah, I've been thinking about this, as I'm sure a lot of people have been for the last couple of weeks. I think, not just in the legal space, but I think in general, this is going to act as a catalyst to really encourage people to use the virtual tools that we've got for just in a much higher capacity than we are now. So it's interesting because we work with a lot of legal departments. And in fact, one client with who we just are wrapping up an engagement with Becky, their whole team is virtual. And the general counsel strongly believes in hiring talent wherever it is, and so they don't really have any core location where most people meet and work together. Tons of them work from home and most of the department work from home. And so we were talking to her about, they're on Office 365, so we talked about how to best use Teams, get a professional, and train people on the best way to collaborate in the tools that you've already got. And what struck me was, it feels awkward to all of us at first, right? Like when you start using video, we are so used to doing conference calls. Even when I was in an office, having a conference call with somebody who was on a different floor than me. So phone calls are no problem for us. We completely have embraced that, but the video feels a little awkward. But once you get used to it, and now we use it with my team quite a bit and I know a lot of other departments are really starting to use the Google Hangouts and Zoom and Uber Conference and all of that, and Teams, of course. I think it's becoming, that as the technology gets better, it's becoming a little less awkward. So I think the new norm is going to be a lot more remote stuff. And so what will be interesting to see is if long-term weather this does have such an effect that, we live in the Bay Area and it's so clustered here, right? Like, I mean, you can't, it takes you 10 minutes to go a quarter of a mile on the freeway. And so will that have a longer-term effect of, okay, if we can really work remotely like this? Do we need to hire people just in the Bay Area? Or can we get talent everywhere, like some of these other employers are doing? And have these video capabilities, and it feels like they're very close to you. So I think if that happens, we'll see less congestion in the cities, maybe less traffic. So longer term, this might be that catalyst that pushes us forward much more quickly than we ever would have headed in that direction. 

And then to your specific question about how law firms and legal departments work together, it's just going to be more remote working together. So that means maybe reliance on the big firms and the big cities might become less, less critical, and maybe some of the firms, when I was in-house we really had a push to look at these Midwest Midwest firms or firms that are in lower-cost locations or alternative service providers. Maybe this will make that happen a little bit more quickly, as well. So it's very early stages. Obviously, we're still kind of figuring this out. But I am very curious to see what the long-term ramifications will be because I think there undoubtedly will be some. I just don't know what they're going to look like exactly yet. But I'm wondering if it's really going to push us more towards the remote working environment and that's how we're going to use our partners as well.

Aurelia Spivey 
Thank you for sharing that. Yes, I totally agree and I think that the words that I picked up on there were that sort of talent and flexibility. I think it's interesting that one of your clients is already doing that. I think that's a great case study for others to be able to think about, the fact that that's already been done. I think there are a lot of benefits to seeing your colleagues and this also applies when you've got colleagues across the world anyway. A big law firm and a big legal department, so I think that face-to-face over video conference is actually going to bring us closer together in a way that we probably hadn't anticipated from our self-isolation. 

Stephanie Corey 
I agree. 

Aurelia Spivey 
So I think coming back to other experiences, and talking about pricing, we're on the pricing matters podcast. So I'd love to hear a little bit about your experience in your legal operations roles. And any advice you have for law firms working with the legal operations team in terms of the pricing element?

Stephanie Corey 
It's a great question and I work with a lot of legal departments that haven't really done anything programmatic around their outside counsel management. It's the one thing that I say, from a legal operations perspective, I think it's a good idea to always, at least, if you're not going to build a formal plan of what are the things I want to do in these next two, three years? You might, you should still consider it in your head rather than going in and saying, okay, well, I think I'm hearing a lot about contracting, we should do that right now. I'm hearing a lot about E-billing, we should do that right now. I think having a strategy in place, is really critical for any general counsel or person leading Ops. So you should really take stock of everything that's going on in your legal department, what are your priorities, what are you trying to do, and then come up with a list or a roadmap of these are the things that I need to do to get me there. And when you look at outside counsel management, it's usually, I mean, if you've got legal outside counsel spend can be anywhere from 50 to 80%, of your spend, and for many legal departments. So when I started at Flex, it was about 70% of our spending was spent on outside counsel, and we wanted to get that more towards 50/50. Where you had an in-house headcount, and all of that was about 50% of the budget, and outside council was about 50%. And we got there, but it took a couple of years for us to get there. So when you're looking at your roadmap of all the things you want to accomplish, what how do you pay for that stuff? I don't know, a general counsel has the ability to go to a CFO and say, hey, I want to do you know, this big whatever contracting program, we want to revamp everything that's gonna cost a million dollars, can I have that added to my budget? And for them to get a yes, that rarely happens. So how do you pay for this stuff? 

Well, how you pay for it, if your spend, your outside counsel spend is significant you pay for it, by having a program in place where you're making sure that you're, it's this is not a program to squeeze your law firms, it's a program to make sure that you're spending the exact right amount that you should be spending for the services that you're getting. And that should be, in my mind, the first thing that you do as a legal team, assuming there are extenuating circumstances where you've got pressure coming from different directions. But the first thing you should do if you're a typical legal department with a lot of spending is getting a program and but what you want to focus on first is how many firms are you using. Understand that you got to be able to report. So what's your total spend? What's the spend by practice area, so litigation, M&A, IP, etc? And hopefully, you have some system in place, some mechanism in place, for you to be able to report on that. How many law firms are you using in general? Usually, you find that it's you're at the tail end of your spend it means you're using a ton of firms. So you usually spend 80%, with your top 10, 20 firms, right, and then the rest, it's like you've got 30 to 100 additional firms that are using that tail end. 

So looking at ways to consolidate the number of firms that you're using, I think is really critical. Because if you can shrink that down to 10 preferred providers, you can push all your work to these 10. I'm just making up that number. I mean, depends on how big your department is, right? Maybe 10 is way too much, and maybe 10 is way too small. But let's use the number 10 for this purpose. You can build real partnerships with these firms, and they will give you all kinds of freebies. Casey Flaherty wrote a great article called unless you ask, which talks exactly about this. All the great things you can get, the benefits from a partnership. Plus they become more efficient, you can get volume discounts, and you can really be efficient in how you use these firms and they become efficient and how they provide your work back to you. 

Then what you want to do is also look for ways of pricing things differently. So using value-based pricing, using alternative fee arrangements, where appropriate. In order to do this and to do the pricing well, you really do need to get the data in place, right? You need to know what you're spending, in order to negotiate these things, and so having any billing system of courses is really critical, so that you can slice and dice the data in order for you to get to make educated decisions on how you should be pricing things. The other thing is, of course, just general RFPs, and that's how you get to your preferred provider panel for each of the categories. I think doing that every couple of years is a really important exercise because it forces you to really look at the firms and how are they. Are you happy with the work they're doing it? Do you feel like it's a good partnership? Alright, how are they billing you? How, from an administrative standpoint, are they doing? Are they providing data back to you? What else are they doing to go above and beyond for this relationship? Because good legal work is just table stakes at this point, what else are these firms doing to keep you as a client? So I think going through the RFP exercises is really important. And you can get RFPs anywhere, from anybody. So you don't have to start from scratch. There are templates all over, right? That you can download. Buying legal counsel is a great resource for that, and I think they've got sample RFPs. But the CLOC website probably has them, the ACC website I'm sure has it too. And I know from experience that if you keep it simple, it's a little less, it can be a horrible experience for the in-house people as well. So I know, going through, literally, when I was back at HP, we did these with binders, like we had 20 binders with all of this information, like printing, and this is, I am definitely dating myself, but you're going through an excruciating amount of data. So keep it as simple as possible, and then it's less painful for you, as well as the law firms. 

Also engaging in your procurement team. So this is another tip where people are sometimes hesitant to pull in procurement, but statistics show if you use procurement to do what they do best, which is running these, a, it saves you time, you don't have to do it, and you only do it like every two years. So why would you want to be an expert in this, like, let them do it. And make sure that you set your goals upfront, like, yes, we want to drive cost down, but this is, it's not just about cost. And they get it like, they're mature enough, usually, to understand what your long-term goals are and help you drive to that. But use procurement to help drive the process and save you time and you'll get a better result at the end of it. Stats show I forget exactly what it was, but something like companies who use procurement, save like an additional 30% or some crazy number like that. Whereas if you do it yourself, you just don't save as much. And at Flex, at HP and Flex, I was so lucky to have just the best, best procurement people that I worked with and they really helped me through the process. So that was a very long answer to that question, but I hope that kind of gave you something there.

Aurelia Spivey 
Absolutely, and thank you for sharing all of those different pieces of experience and different pieces of advice. I think a common thread that I can take from that and I think our listeners will take from that is that collaboration. It's between the legal, the lawyers in the legal department, the lawyers in law firms, your procurement team, and your legal operations team.

Stephanie Corey 
Thank you for picking up on that thread. And actually, yeah, my procurement person at Flex, Haley Carter Crane, she is just an amazing procurement expert and we have written articles together and such. And that's what we talk about, how blessed we were to have this great partnership, and it wasn't a negotiation, right, she and I knew what our goals were at the end of it. We were from an operation standpoint and from a logistics standpoint, we were handling it, but we have to negotiate with our in-house team. And so the negotiation is on all ends because we have to try to convince them, this is good advice I think for any legal operations professional, you're in a position of, you're trying to sell your wares, right? You're trying to make your in-house team understand the importance of doing this because they're used to picking up the phone in many cases, just whoever they want to call and engaging with whatever law firms they want to engage in. Now you're putting guardrails around this whole program and they're not, lawyers love their lawyers, that they use. So you've got to convince them, look, this is why we're doing, and of course, the message comes from the top down, but it can't just be that, it has to be from the bottom up too. So you're talking to them about why it's so important to do this program and what are the benefits? And hey, can you at least try this other firm for this work, because then we're funneling most of the work to them. So you're doing a selling job from inside, as well, to get your in-house lawyers on the same page, but then how those in-house lawyers can use you, is that you're the bad cop. So what I would tell my in-house team all the time is, look when they start talking pricing, and hey, why are you guys doing this, direct them back to me just say, hey, I don't know, our Ops manager is forcing us to do this, make me the bad cop. Then it takes that uncomfortable dialogue away from the lawyers and that's the value that you bring to the table is, make me do all of that work and then the law firms can hate me, who cares, I don't have to work with them on a daily basis. Then it doesn't hinder the relationship at all between the in-house team and the law firm too.

Aurelia Spivey 
And that makes a lot of sense and I think pricing directors are also, the pricing directors at law firms in that similar session. They're there for you to be talking to as well because it means that the working relationship between the in-house lawyers and the private practitioners is separated from the pricing conversation and I think that's a really helpful place to be. I think we're seeing hopefully more of that going forward. Where are we going to see that the people are doing the roles that are best suited to their skills?

Stephanie Corey 
I agree.

Aurelia Spivey 
So here, I'm going to get a little bit, even more, I don't know if tactical is the right word, but we've talked about the sort of RFP process and bringing this, some level of consolidation in your in your law firm panel. I'd like to talk about, a little bit more specifics on, we talked about AFAs and value-based pricing, but what have you seen in terms of the most effective pricing arrangements, that you've seen work in practice, in your experience?

Stephanie Corey
Yeah, I think from what I've seen, I think it's good. You know, everything we talked about, doing the consolidation and doing your preferred panels, running or RFPs, like I said, I think that's good discipline and everybody should be doing that. All kinds of interesting information come out of that exercise and I think it's important to do, but, and pushing on hourly rates and asking for volume discounts, all of that will save you money, there's no doubt about it. I've funded my own programs for the last 15 years, so it definitely works. I think this value-based pricing in this phase-based negotiation is extremely effective. 

As is the AFA. There's certain work that just really lends itself like IP or maybe employment cases that are standard or other standard things that your department does. If you've got the data to say, okay, for the last three years, this is what we've been spending on average for these types of matters. Then it's very easy to go to your firm and say, this is what I'm thinking and work. If your firm is creative if they want to be a good partner with you, and if you've done the other stuff that we talked about where you're truly a partner with these a handful of firms, that they'll be willing to do something creative. And if they've got these pricing directors who work for them, that's what they're experts in as well, and hopefully, you could come to an arrangement that feels fair and you're, you're paying based on value, rather than effort. Because it never made sense to me why you're paying hourly for work, there's zero incentive to be efficient or to get things done in an efficient way. You're paying for non-efficiency and you're rewarding non-efficiency in my mind. So I would like to see more of a shift away from hourly. I'm a big proponent of moving away from hourly when possible.

Aurelia Spivey 
The concept of value is definitely something that we're hearing more about, on the podcast, and it's being addressed from the client and the law firm perspective a lot more. Rather than, as you say, the hourly, the effort, the value rather than the effort that we want to be looking at. So here's another question, and I think I'd love to hear your views on this. What role can the legal operations team play in making pricing arrangements successful? 

Stephanie Corey 
No, it's a great question, and here's where I think legal operations professionals can add a lot of value. It's in the data and in the kind of marketing of the program. So I think one is educating your attorneys. If you've got a seat at the table, it's a lot easier and you're in a better position to help get the team there. So I think if you, I was lucky enough to report directly to the General Counsel when I was in-house, and he and I were very close, and I was his right hand for sure. Like, I ran, like I was the how. So he was the what do we want, this is what we want to do for the department, and then operationally, I was the one who's supposed to go out and operationalize all of that. And so if you're in that kind of a position, then you're in a position to start planting the seed with the teams and with the heads of each of the practice areas and start discussing, like, look, this is what I'm seeing in my networking organizations, everybody's moving this way. There are all kinds of educational programs out on value-based pricing, AFAs, and all of that. There's buying legal counsel, there's a lot of work in this area. So I would start educating the teams and planting the seed and then once you've done that, and people are interested, that are at least willing to like look at it and give it a shot, then that's where you can introduce some of these experts to talk to them and all of that. 

And then that's where, when once that's done, that's where you really need to help, by providing data. So further to what I said earlier, like for employment is a great example, if you can run a report from your Ebilling system, or your financial system to show, we had 15 employment matters last year, this is on average what we spent for each of them the year before it looks like this, the year before that, it looks like that. And if you can get that data to the head of litigation, and then you can say, on average we are spending this, this is what the data looks like. That gives them the information they need to then go to the law firms and at least start the dialogue. So I think being able to provide the data on what types of matters you're getting in and how much they're costing. If you can go down a little bit further to show what types of lawyers you typically have working on those matters. Are they very senior, or are they very junior, not only can you then help figure out what the pricing should be, you can figure out what types of firms, you might want to use. Is this work eligible to maybe go to a second-tier firm, instead of a very high-priced firm, or an alternative service provider, somebody can we just outsource this work rather than trying to process it in-house? So if you've got the data, then you can at least start having the conversations with each of the in-house lawyers to even start socializing the idea. Getting them used to it. It's going to take a minute for people to really feel comfortable with it. Then the moment, I would say, then, as an ops person, you help them run a pilot. So whether you're doing it with an expert or you're just doing it with a preferred law firm, you kind of help coordinate it and I think it will be of great comfort to have you there in the process.

Aurelia Spivey 
The more data and the more accurate data that firms and legal operations departments can have, the better, we can all move forward in terms of getting the right amount of value. So you, we talked about earlier, very briefly about billing guidelines, in your previous roles and also in terms of legal operations advice. So I'd love to know a little bit more about, any advice you have for legal departments in enforcing billing guidelines because I know that can be tricky sometimes.

Stephanie Corey 
It can be tricky and it's not a perfect science, and I think, have one set of billing guidelines. If you have multiple sets of billing guidelines, it's going to be really tough to enforce. And I don't even know that any systems really can enforce multiple guidelines. So I would focus on narrowing it down. So one set of guidance guidelines that you're comfortable with, for the whole department, and keep them as simple as possible. There's, again, just like the RFP templates, you can get all kinds of examples out there. I think they're all over the place. And I think you should have them, we recommend them to our clients, you should you definitely want to have them. You want to have your E-billing system set up to flag when there are any billing violations. So things like no new timekeepers without getting a verbal or written approval and you don't get to increase the rates throughout this matter, no paying for whatever first-class business travel and photocopies and research and all of that stuff. Once you've got that nailed down, you can set up your E-billing system to make sure that those are flagged and so that the lawyers, hopefully, as you're reviewing an invoice you only have to focus on what those flags are because everything else should fit within your guidelines. So you're looking at exceptions rather than everything that you said you were going to pay for. So I think it's important just like, as part of your overall outside counsel management program that we talked about earlier, you want this to be part of it, for sure, but I hope that as we move forward and progress, and move more towards AFAs and value-based pricing, this becomes a moot point. Because who cares, right? If they're, if you have a flat fee arrangement set up, it doesn't matter if they want to travel first class, let them travel first class till the cows come home, you're not paying for it, or it's all part of this package. Right? 

So I think as we move away from hourly, we won't have to scrutinize the invoices anymore, because it's irrelevant. So law firms want to be really efficient and they certainly should be and think like business people, in terms of their spending, and how their staffing matters, and are they doing it efficiently, and all of that, they're going to have to start thinking in that direction. But that's not your concern as an in-house team and so you're getting x work, and you're paying X price for it, and that's all you need to care about. And then also one other thing I want to say about billing guidelines is and again, you should have them for sure, we recommend them to all of our clients, but if you don't want to create, when you, it's going to take a few years to get away from our releases, so it's here for a while for sure. And so you don't want to create an adversarial relationship with your firm. I don't think, I think it's, they are partners and they're providing a service that theoretically in-house, you can't provide or don't have the time and all of that. So, you want it, they're your partners and so it's not about being nitpicky, and we're not, hey, you were not paying for this, how dare you charge us for that? It's, it's more to start a conversation and they should be flagged and it's good to know, hey, is this one firm just constantly abusing, this process, and they're overcharging you and sneaking people in or whatever. It's that, it's a data point, right? So like, then good, you've got all this data, and then you can go back and have a conversation with this firm one maybe choose not to work with them anymore, or maybe they didn't know. But it's a data point to start a conversation. It's not about, it might feel like it is, but I encourage you to do this whole process without, with a good attitude of like, I hope this builds our relationship. Rather than, oh, we're going to really nitpick everything we can. It shouldn't really be about that. Does that make sense?

Aurelia Spivey 
That makes sense and I think it's really helpful for people to think about it in that way. Because I agree with you, it does feel, even in the question, it feels like enforcing lending guidelines, feels a little bit more adversarial than by 

Stephanie Corey 
Billing violations, right?

Aurelia Spivey 
Focusing on the positive aspects of everything, including the billing guidelines, just as part of the whole partnership, is great advice. So I hope people take that piece away from it as we move forward. We've talked about a lot of things, but do you have any other top tips on pricing from your experience in legal operations, that might be helpful for people to hear?

Stephanie Corey 
You know, I think I've hit on the things that I see that work really well throughout this podcast. So I stand by all of that, and I know that if you embark on any of those programs, you will save money. And it just depends on how much bandwidth you have and your appetite to implement all of these things. I think overall, one thing I want to say is don't be afraid to ask and have a conversation with your firms. So we still work with, 15 years ago or 10 years ago even, when I was at HP, I remember starting down the path of like, uh-oh legal is now considered a business, and all of a sudden, we have to save money. That was the first time anybody ever looked at a legal department to cut budget. And so then we had to turn over our law firms and I remember people freaking out, just we can't ask them to do that. But then they got over it pretty quickly. Now HP, I mean, by the time I left, and I know they'd continued it after I left, they had a pretty tight outside counsel program running and I think it's still enforced there. I still work with a lot of companies who haven't gotten there yet, they will still say things like, oh, I don't want to ask the firm for that or that. And so I think again, you want to maintain that relationship and partnership. This is not about squeezing them, we want them to be profitable, we need them to be profitable, but reasonably profitable and not on the backs of their clients for wasted money, that the clients don't need to be spending. So I think we want to encourage all clients, all legal departments, to have the conversation with your law firm, and if they're not willing to bend, be flexible, and be creative, consider law firms who are. Because there's a lot of new firms popping up, who are technology-enabled, who are doing things differently, who are not, they're not, they themselves are paying their people differently, so they're not married to the hourly build, the hourly billing, and so look at those firms. I am a big proponent of these, this second generation, if you will, of law firms who are coming out and doing things differently but have the dialogue. I guess that's how I would kind of raise that up, have the conversation, and that's all part of the partnership. Don't be afraid to talk to them.

Aurelia Spivey 
It's always good to have the conversation rather than anyone feeling that they're sitting in a situation that isn't fair or they're not getting the value that they expect. 

I always asked this question, we're on the pricing matters podcast. So Steph, tell me, why does pricing matter to you?

Stephanie Corey 
I think it goes back to exactly what you just said, that if you feel like you're paying too much or being taken advantage of, or you're not getting the value that you're paying for, that's a big problem. And in anything, right, not just in the legal space, but in any area of our lives. I think in order to have the best partnership you can with all of your law firms, you need to feel like what you're paying for is equal to the value that you're getting. Not only that but you're going to need to, at some point, explain that to people who are higher up than you. So I don't know in general counsel, who doesn't have to report to the CFO or CEO on what they're spending and the value that they're getting from that spend. So I think pricing is so critical because of that. I think what you're paying, you're paying for something and you're getting value from that, theoretically, and so what is that value? Is it a fair exchange? It's germane to any legal department, right? This is the work that you do, is it worth it? Is, should the company be paying this for the value that the legal department is providing? And that's everything about a legal department, right? Do you know what I mean? It doesn't get more important than that.

Aurelia Spivey 
Is it worth it? I think that's great, it's a great way to end our conversation. It's something that we all will need to be thinking about from the law firm or a vendor, any perspective. Is what the value that I'm providing, is it worth? Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on the podcast today. 

Stephanie Corey 
Yeah, well, I hope your time with me was worth it.

Aurelia Spivey 
Absolutely, it always is. 

Thank you for listening to Pricing Matters, a podcast Digitory Legal. To find out more about our guests please visit our podcast page. If you have any feedback or guests that you think we should feature, please reach out to me. Thank you for listening, see you next time.

About BigHand Matter Pricing

BigHand Matter Pricing is a next-generation legal matter pricing, budgeting and cost management solution. Turning data into actionable insight and transparency that empowers your teams to make objective pricing decisions, armed with accurate real-time business understanding. Gain a data-driven understanding of matter profitability drivers like leverage, effort and costs, to give your teams the autonomy they need to boost productivity.

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