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Litigation Report Cards Improve Outcomes: Lessons from Risk Manager of the Year
June Risk Management Tip of the Month
By Kevin M. Quinley CPCU, ARM AIC, AIM, ARe

Claims Software

Ah, springtime when a young person's fancy turns to ... best practices in litigation management.

Really? Well, maybe that's not exactly how the saying goes. This time of year, though, is often useful in discovering the identity of Business Insurance's annual Risk Manager of the Year, an award conferred during the annual RIMS Conference, this year held in lovely San Diego. The announcement and its subsequent coverage in BI also gives us a sneak peek at best practices in a number of realms. One of those is litigation management.

Scott Beckman, Risk Manager of Advocate Health Care Network is this year's "Risk Manager of the Year" Award. A profile of his Chicago-area operation (Business Insurance, 4/28/08) reveals some interesting facets of an innovative litigation management program.

For starters, Advocate's risk management department has written guidelines for outside counsel. Okay, not so groundbreaking, perhaps you're thinking. These guidelines, however, include six yardsticks by which outside law firms are judged:

  • Communication
  • Management
  • Timely responses to information requests
  • Competency
  • Billing practices
  • Compliance with operations guidelines

These categories are not weighed evenly. Communication, competency and Guideline Compliance carry the most heft.

The judging process doesn't end there, though. Advocate goes a step further by giving each law firm an overall score, putting it in a chart and tracking performance for all 12 of its outside firms. It shares this chart with those firms.

This feedback mechanism to outside counsel creates its own Hawthorne Effect, where lawyer awareness of these metrics has had a positive impact on service and outcomes.,

Five take-aways for risk managers:

  • Decide what YOU think is important in evaluating outside counsel
  • Periodically grade outside counsel according to these criteria
  • Track and graph trends
  • Share this data periodically with counsel
  • Don't be afraid of blending hard data (e.g., average billings per case) with
    "softer" subjective data (e.g. competence within a certain area of law)

Not everyone can be Risk Manager of the Year. (In fact, not all of us could make it to San Diego to attend RIMS!)

All of us, though, involved in litigation management can ponder the approach used by Advocate and consider adapting to their own operations to improve litigation management processes and outcomes!

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