BUYING LEGAL COUNCIL

HBS cases

I co-authored the Harvard Business School case studies GlaxoSmithKline: Sourcing Complex Professional Services (N9-414-003) and Riverview Law: Applying Business Sense to the Legal Market (N9-414-079) with Heidi K. Gardner.

The Riverview Law case discusses new model law firms and their strategic approach:

Riverview Law, a new model legal services firm run like a business rather than a traditional law firm, wants to expand its unconventional concept to the U.S. Through the eyes of Heather Larson, a (fictional) U.S. lawyer Riverview is trying to recruit, the case profiles the firm’s unusual approach, including performing legal work for annual fixed-price contracts, using data and analytics to advise clients’ on ways to reduce their legal problems (and spend), and evaluating lawyers’ performance based on client satisfaction surveys rather than traditional metrics like billed revenues. With detailed information on the firm’s financial performance, service teams, pricing, culture, and business model, you can debate how big of a threat Riverview poses to traditional law firms. 

The GSK case focuses on legal procurement:

Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) uses an innovative new approach to procuring outside legal counsel: it replaces relationship-based selection and law firms’ traditional time-based billing with data-driven decision making and an online reverse auction. In the case, GSK is hit with a potentially devastating suit and must hire a firm in time to respond. The recently hired (fictional) managing attorney, Sophia Keating, grapples with GSK’s approach. The GSK veterans assure her that the approach drives down costs and improves the quality of work by systematically increasing the rigor in the procurement process. Still skeptical, Sophia runs the process of systematically analyzing and comparing the competing firms’ bids. This case also describes the process by which these tools were created and adopted. To access GSK’s RFP material, get the supplementary material from the Harvard Business School site.