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What are the significant management trends developing in the US to lower the costs and improve the effectiveness of legal services? Will legal directors in the UK develop similar management approaches?As the architect and former manager of the DuPont Law Firm Partnering programme, and now a legal services efficiency consultant, I have been an instrument and an observer of change. I have worked with clients in the US and the UK and I have seen innovative management trends emerge in both markets. In 1994 I spoke at a legal conference in London and described the programme that I had designed to transform DuPont’s legal services as “strategic partnering” with outside counsel. I indicated that I had modelled the program on principles of supply chain management and while I remained confident of success, it was an unproven approach to purchasing legal services. I further suggested that the same issues that had spawned the DuPont programme – a genuine concern by corporate clients about the cost and quality of legal services and a commitment to address this problem – would stimulate similar programmes in the UK. It was clear that most of the legal services directors and law firm partners in the audience viewed the concepts I outlined with suspicion. ‘Strategic partnering’, it was thought, involved too much business management and not enough recognition of the need to retain lawyers’ professional independence. The feeling, although unstated, was that this concept was too radical a departure from the traditional norms of attorney-client relations. This was the same reaction I encountered in the US as I launched the programme in the early 1990s.While it took some time to develop, the legal market in the UK is proving to be increasingly hospitable to the ‘partnering’ concept, although the ‘partnering’ notion has been greatly overused. This autumn I spoke at another legal conference in London and the agenda was devoted to issues such as strategic partnering, Six Sigma, supply chain management and collaboration. The conference was well attended and the audience exhibited a great deal of interest in the management aspects of legal services. These issues have come of age in the UK legal market. Let us look at what major trends have developed in the US legal market and consider what these trends may mean for the UK. There are two dominant trends:1. Transforming corporate client-law firm relations; and2. Transforming legal work practices

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