Here’s the approach that we took to
establish a performance scorecard:
Step 1: Agree on types of performance to be measured. Once
we agreed on the concept of using
a scorecard, we had to determine
what types of expectations warranted
inclusion. We had to agree that the expectations went to the fundamentals
of the firm’s professional services, and
the partner had to be willing to have
the firm’s people measured in this way.
Step 2: Set specifics. We established
the criteria we would measure objectively. These included: subject-matter
skills and knowledge; regular communications, including deadline management; following client instructions;
professionalism; demonstrating an
understanding of the project’s objective; and budget management.
Step 3: Put fees at risk. This may
have been the most important step.
We agreed on what proportion of
the project fees would be at risk for
failure to deliver at expectations for
these criteria on the scorecard.
A core challenge, especially with two
large institutions working together,
can be facilitating clear communications, setting shared expectations,
and maintaining clarity for staff at
all levels of the engagement. We
believed that the “how” was now captured by the scorecard elements, and
that the scorecard elements identified
and addressed the root causes that
had initially precipitated the difficult
We recommend using the scorecard
approach because it has great potential to improve “how” work is done,
and increase the value and quality of
the engagement between a law firm
and in-house counsel. A scorecard
introduces transparency on both
sides. It helps the law firm because
clients’ expectations are clearly
44 ASSOCIATION OF CORPORATE COUNSEL
Examples of communication gaps
Do this.... Not this....
Check in often with your law firm or client to
provide a status update on how your project
For example, agree to a weekly check-in call or
email in which you tick through the status of
each project deliverable, phase, etc.
Think that if you haven’t heard from your law
firm (or, conversely, your client), it means all
is well and there is no need to follow up with
Communicate your updates or expectations
vaguely or at such a high level that
the meaning is ambiguous and open to
Whether you are the client or the service
provider, be specific about expectations,
deadlines, and deliverables. For example,
instead of saying that you expect that your
final deliverable will be completed as soon as
practicable, say that you expect a first draft by
X date, and a final draft by Y date.
Work with outside counsel to develop
approaches, such as compliance monitoring
systems and refresher courses, to increase the
Provide specific and actionable feedback with
Instead of saying, “We were disappointed
that associates working on the matter did
not communicate effectively” say, “We had
expected that associates would immediately
notify us if they encountered a delay that
would affect the quality or timeliness of your
firm’s deliverable. But we were not notified
about the delay until the deliverable due date.
This delayed communication was not effective
and did not meet our expectations.”
Provide no, or minimal, feedback about the
quality of work or the state of the relationship.
Pull out a calendar. Work backward from
the final deliverable due date. Set interim
milestone and goals. Communicate them
clearly to your law firm (or client). Agree in
advance to all interim dates and milestones.
Expect that your deliverable or project will
Sample scorecard: A percentage of the total legal fees are at risk, and based on the
score, the company may receive a credit against legal fees charged.
Performance metric Below
( 1 point)
( 2 points)
1. Skill/Knowledge: Attorneys assigned
have the necessary legal and business
2. Deadline management: Assigned
attorneys meet or exceed mutually agreed-upon deadlines.
3. Professionalism: Attorneys represent the
company in a manner consistent with the
company’s values and expectations for its
4. Budget Management – attorneys
manage to the proposed budget and communicate any variances in advance.
DELIVERING VALUE BY MANAGING PERFORMANCE