Thursday, April 10, 2014

We Invite you to Participate in The 2014 Mattern & Associates Cost Recovery Survey

Mattern & Associates is proud to announce that 2014 marks the 10 year anniversary of the Mattern & Associates Cost Recovery Survey, and the Survey is now live!

Over these ten years, we have drawn broad participation from the nation’s most distinguished firms.  This is because the results participants receive are broadly viewed as an invaluable and a concrete, decision-making tool.  Legal industry leaders have described the Mattern & Associates Survey as, “The most comprehensive snapshot of cost recovery trends and practices available in the legal field.”

Conducted over a 30 day period, the 2014 Survey will explore traditional, modern, and emerging cost recovery area, including:

  • The percentage of firms implementing alternative methods of recovering soft costs, and that this was on the rise.
  • Percentage of clients continuing to push back and refusing to pay certain soft cost recoveries, especially percentages in the areas of legal research and B & W photocopy.
  • Print and scan recoveries across the board continued to increase with some of the lowest push back percentages in the 2012 Survey.
  • The net realizations of soft costs continued to erode while hard costs’ continued to significantly increase.

 

Participating firms receive a fully customized report comparing their firm’s cost recovery practices to industry benchmarks; survey details are broken down by firm size and geographic location and are reviewed in conjunction with one of Mattern’s cost recovery experts. 

If you would like more information on the Survey, please join us for a webinar on Wednesday, April 16th at 12pm EST.  During the webinar on April 16th, our Director of Operations, Joe Grubb, will review best practices for preparing and answering the 2014 Survey questions as well as avail his expertise to answer any other questions regarding this year’s Survey.   If you want to join the webinar on April 16th, click here to register directly: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/696116961

We hope you join your peers and participate in the 2014 Cost Recovery Survey.  Please contact Lisa Schneider today at lschneider@matternassoc.com for the Survey link.

 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Strategic Expense Management and Law Firm Staffing Trends

The Western Law Firm Leaders kicks off its inaugural session today at The Standard Club in San Francisco.

This educational series focuses on both the most up-to-date trends impacting the legal industry, and most importantly, delivering concrete strategies for implementing successful solutions by the industry’s top experts.

Rob Mattern is pleased to be leading one of the key roundtable discussions at this kick-off event.  At Mattern & Associates we are constantly thinking of ways to optimize workflow and headcount as part of our larger goal of expanding strategic thinking about your firm’s expense management decision processes.

According to the just released ALM Legal Intelligence white paper, “Finding the Right Balance: Non-attorney Law Firm Staffing Trends”, in a survey conducted during January and February 2014, law firms are pulling back from their focus on shrinking staff.  Instead, they are focused on “staff optimization” to enhance productivity and profits.

As law firms adjust expectations to a foreseeable future of flat revenue and modest gains in demand, we agree it is time to dig deeper into expense management and incorporate strategic thinking beyond the diminishing course of action of headcount reduction.

Rob’s session today at 1:20pm, “Strategic Expense Management”, will focus on:

  • Strategic expense management, not just a pricing exercise
  • Taking into account top line revenue ramifications – potential new business intake and cost recovery revenue
  • Contract terms mandate flexibility, assumption, performance reporting—and most importantly, monitoring
  • The rise of alternative service delivery models
  • Future proofing your contracts

To learn more about the Western Law Firm Leaders including registration, time, and a detailed agenda, click here.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Relocating a Mail and Reprographics Center - Things to Take Into Consideration

Recently we received a request from a client to relocate their office services space from the tower location where their business offices exist to a sub-basement space in an adjoining tower.  Mail and reprographics centers, which were previously separate would exist in new, adjacent space, but be managed by two different teams.  Challenging?  Just a bit! 

Some of the more difficult aspects of this challenge are obvious.  How much space is available now and how does that compare to the previous locations?  Is there easy elevator access to move mail and copy jobs? Is there enough room for items that are used frequently?  If the new location was previously used for storage, where will those stored items go now?   Most importantly, we were concerned about the impact to service delivery; it’s essential that the firm maintain the same level of service, particularly in regards to timely delivery of mail, copy jobs, printing, and scanning, without a costly add of staff.

As we delved into the project more questions arose. As there is only one entrance and egress point for the space, it was important to determine if there would be just one Customer Service Desk for the adjacent, separately managed spaces.  If not, who would act as the focal point for the Center? The correct configuration of the space is crucial to maintaining an unrestricted and easy workflow.  Should the space be set up for the possibility that a single management of the teams will eventually be accomplished? Looking towards this future possibility, should the managers’ offices be located in their current area of responsibility, or so that they could view the entire operation?

Many of these questions cannot definitively be answered at this point in time, there are too many outside factors.  Planning for the future and maintaining flexibility is the best method for dealing with these challenging dynamics.  We need to make recommendations that work for right now, but are also flexible enough to handle changes in the near future.  As the office environment evolves, office configuration and space planning must evolve with it. Who knows? This type of move could result in a total redesign of the way that mail and print requests are received and delivered.  A portal to the “digital world” could be coming sooner, rather than later. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mattern & Associates Announces the 10 Year Anniversary and the Coming Launch of The 2014 Mattern & Associates Cost Recovery Survey

We are proud to announce that 2014 marks the 10 year anniversary of the Mattern & Associates Cost Recovery Survey.  First conducted in 2004 and featured in the Wall Street Journal in 2012, our Survey is an industry-recognized and trusted source for law firms to compare their performance in the recovery of costs to that of their peers in multiple areas.

Over these ten years, we have drawn broad participation from the nation’s most distinguished firms.  This is because the results participants receive are broadly viewed as an invaluable and concrete, decision-making tool.  Legal industry leaders have described the Mattern & Associates Survey as, "The most comprehensive snapshot of cost recovery trends and practices available in the legal field." 

The 2014 Survey will explore traditional, modern, and emerging cost recovery areas—and for the first time will include a workflow analysis component.  Some of the salient data from the 2012 results revealed this type of cost-saving, insightful data:

  • The percentage of firms implementing alternative methods of recovering for soft costs, and that this was on the rise. 
  • Percentage of clients continuing to push back and refusing to pay certain soft cost recoveries, especially percentages in the areas of legal research and B & W photocopy.
  • Print and scan recoveries across the board continued to increase with some of the lowest push back percentages in the 2012 Survey. 
  • The net realizations of soft costs continued to erode while hard costs’ continued to significantly increase

Participating firms receive a fully customized report comparing their firm’s cost recovery practices to industry benchmarks; survey details are broken down by firm size and geographic location and are reviewed in conjunction with one of Mattern’s cost recovery experts.  

To join your peers and participate in the 2014 Cost Recovery Survey, contact Lisa Schneider today at lschneider@matternassoc.com. Only participants receive customized reports.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What is the “fair” cost of scanning for a firm to bill to a client?

This was a question recently debated online and there were various responses, but which emanated from this citation and these questions:

Per ABA Opinion 93-379, “A lawyer may not charge a client for overhead expenses…. [but] may recoup expenses …, so long as the charge reasonably reflects the lawyer’s actual cost for the services rendered.” What is the actual cost of scanning? If billing rates factor in the “overhead” cost of support staff (i.e. – labor), then what’s left? With scanning, there is no paper cost. Scanning actually reduces a firm’s overhead by reducing needed storage space. While large scale scanning of documents is a separate issue, should firms charge for “routine scanning” that replaces a traditional, paper filing system?

In reviewing all of the ensuing 8 comments 5 (62.5%) came out against charging for soft costs and 3 (37.5%) came out for it albeit in a different method – which is a very similar breakdown to the percentage of firms charging for scans today.

I think there are really two arguments going on:  1. Should firms charge for soft costs and 2.  What is a fair cost of scanning? I also think you have to consider the contributor’s perspective  - is that perspective business development or firm profitability?  

Let me address the 2nd point first. Looked at strictly from a business development angle - I would say don’t charge.  It is always easier to give in on a charge than defend it. I don’t necessarily agree with this strategy but can understand it.      

On the firm profitability front - why wouldn’t you charge for it? There is a cost to it, it is a function of the matter (you wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t for that matter) and the process (scanning) replaces technology that you charged for in the past (facsimile and overnight shipping) at a fraction of their cost.

It all comes back to the fact that clients will pay for reasonable, defensible, justifiable expenses generated by their cases. If you look at the market, example after example illustrates this fact—and this includes scanning.  This additional revenue may even save a job or two.