When it was pointed out to me by a client no less that what I was doing was wrong, I was embarrassed. It also shifted my perspective, and started me down the path of thinking about digital objects in digital terms. I adopted the attitude there's an app for that. That is, whenever I encountered a task that had a high labor to value added ratio, I assumed that I was encountering a problem that someone else had already solved through a program, feature, macro, workaround, etc. Google queries made it easy to locate tools to automatically rename files and stamp exhibits.
Eventually, I got to the point where I was writing my own scripts to speed up repeat tasks. For example, downloading the other side's minor cases was among the biggest pains in creating the hearing binders mentioned above. At the time (since remedied by the legal research service), my options were to (a) enter all the citations at once and download the cases as a single, unitary file or (b) enter each citation separately in order to download the cases as individual files. So I created option (c), create and run a script that entered the citations and downloaded the individual files for me. I subsequently added to that a second script that indexed the cases and renamed the downloaded files (which came with file names like Westlaw_101394582302) to the case title.
Yes, I am an odd duck. Fortunately for me, dumb luck and a benevolent GC brought me in-house where reducing billable hours is a marketable skill rather than career suicide. I am now in a position to do more than just complain (though I continue to do that, too). I fashioned my audit based on my own observations and experiences as outside counsel.
So far I have conducted the nine audits of outside counsel. Those audits confirmed what so many colleagues at other firms had been telling me for years: the inadequacies about which I complained so vociferously were not unique to my firm; technological incompetence is endemic to the profession; and the quantity of resources wasted on busywork is shameful.
D. Casey Flaherty is corporate counsel for Kia Motors America. Flaherty's opinions are his own, not those of Kia Motors. Email: CFlaherty@kiausa.com.