At the Association of Corporate Counsel's annual meeting last week in Boston, Wal-Mart announced it will be adding flextime policies to its current list of law firm measures, joining cost-effectiveness, performance and diversity. Apparently, it will not be enough for Wal-Mart’s firms to merely implement flextime programs, “the policies themselves [must] be flexible.” According to an associate general counsel at Wal-Mart, “We've found that even those firms that have flextime policies, they haven't communicated to attorneys in the firm that it's OK to use them without fear or shame.”
In any event, some will find it strange that flextime is included on the list of evaluative criteria. "Cost effectiveness" et al. are ends, whereas flextime is a means (the presumed goal of which, "diversity," is already on the list).
Meanwhile, also at the Boston ACC meeting, in-house counsel were given the chance to rate (and comment upon) their outside law firms. The scores as well as the (open-ended, anonymous) comments will eventually be available on the ACC Value Index, where they can only be viewed by fellow in-house counsel. Legal marketing guru Larry Bodine compares the Value Index unfavorably to Yelp.com:
The difference from Yelp.com is that the law firms have no ability to see the reviews about them. […] The secrecy employed by the ACC is troublesome, because it seems fair for a law firm to be able to request a copy of what is being said about it, so the firm can make improvements and correct problems.
Corporations are being encouraged by the ACC to use the Value Index when deciding to hire a new law firm, or retain a current one. Law firms have no way of knowing whether they have been defamed or whether a comment about them is totally false.
-posted by brian
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