The Point

  • Recently the Arizona Supreme Court granted Axiom Law authority to provide licensed lawyers and their legal advice directly to businesses that do not have a general counsel or other full-time attorney on their payroll.
  • This matters because attorneys’ bar regulations in the U.S. (except in Washington, D.C.) have prohibited such a direct offering by any entity owned by persons who have not been licensed to practice law.
  • In over 20 years of providing qualified attorneys to businesses that do have full-time in-house counsel, and currently generating in excess of $1 billion in annual revenue, Axiom Law is renowned for two traits:
    1. The high quality of the lawyers it provides to companies; many of whom have practiced law with prestigious traditional law firms or Fortune 500 general counsel offices, lots of them with Ivy League pedigrees, etc., and
    2. Fair charges to their corporate clients. Unlike traditional law firms, Axiom Law does not bill by the hour.

Continue reading


The Point

Corporate law functions perennially experience chronic shortfalls between the capabilities they have and the ones they need. Meeting these shortfalls requires Legal capability increases at scale. But, as illustrated by Microsoft’s / Jason Barnwell’s experience described in Part I of this two-part series, most law firms resist cooperation  with “law companies” or “alternative legal services providers” who provide the software, data analysis, and business process expertise needed to do routine, recurring “process work” (or “efficiency work” as Elevate Services’ Liam Brown refers to it below) at-scale.

Elevate Services is an outlier among U.S.* legal services providers which has organized itself to offer corporate clients both (1) legal advice of licensed attorneys like that found in a traditional law firm, and (2) software, data analysis, and business process expertise offered at the high standards offered by law companies or alternative legal services providers.

The result: Elevate Services offers its corporate clients at-scale responses to skyrocketing legal and regulatory demands at lower cost, greater speed, and greater accuracy than a traditional law firm can offer. Continue reading


The Point

    1. Corporate law functions perennially experience chronic shortfalls between the capabilities they have and the capabilities they need. Absent an unlimited budget that can simply add lawyers in response to each new legal and regulatory demand, Legal must increase its compliance capabilities at-scale just to keep up.
    2. In a recent series (Parts I, II, III, and IV) I explained that process-based systems are necessary to achieve such at-scale increases in Legal’s compliance capabilities. Again, just adding lawyers is not sustainable.
    3. But the legal profession’s still-dominant billable hour business model impedes Legal’s adoption of the modern automated systems needed to scale Legal’s capabilities.

Continue reading


The Point

1. Regulations are technical: thousands of pages filled with minutiae.

2. Regulations are human: the minutiae is enforced by people — people who have their own personal traits, good and bad.

3. Regulatory compliance is often as much about the personal traits of those who enforce the rules as it is about the rules’ specific terms. Continue reading


Who Should Do What on Legal and Regulatory Risk?

The enterprise needs compliance systems and processes that provide early warning of legal and regulatory dangers, that trigger timely actions against those dangers, and that, ultimately, can prevent them from mutating into something worse. Those systems and processes should report up to the CEO, COO, or CFO (or some other senior executive who possesses proven management capability), not to a general counsel or other practicing lawyer who lacks proven management capability.

One lesson of the Boeing 737 Max crashes, General Motors ignition switch tragedy, Blue Bell Creameries listeria outbreak, and dozens of similar compliance misses (see Part II of this IV-part series): in each case the C-suite was blindsided by a devastating legal or regulatory surprise, and Legal was excused from accountability for that surprise by an “ignorance defense” (Part III).

The corporate law function is disinclined to manage the sorts of systems and processes that offer a reasonable chance of nipping such incipient dangers in the bud. So business executives need to be put in charge of this management task by having Legal report directly to one of them. General counsels and other practicing lawyers should be called upon to support legal and regulatory compliance aspects of that task by providing advice as subject matter experts. Continue reading


The Point

Business analyses — and decisions to which they can lead — are no better than the data on which they are based.

Part I of this two-part series considers the tiny minority of legal matters priced to client companies on a basis other than attorney hours (a reported 16.8%), and then asks if more resolute negotiation by the corporate law function might wean outside counsel from hourly billing. LexisNexis / CounselLink, source of the 2021 report and that 16.8% number, is a superlative provider of data concerning legal services delivery.

But data about legal services delivery are usually of less precision and less transparency than, for instance, data on which audited financials are based. In particular, two flaws in the empirical findings behind the “16.8%” figure limit that report’s utility for understanding the true extent of AFA’s in U.S. legal practice. Continue reading


The Point

“In 2020, 16.8% of [corporate legal] matters had some portion of their billing under an arrangement other than hourly billing”, according to the most recent LexisNexis / CounselLink trends report on U.S. law firms’ charges to U.S. corporations (2021 report based on 12 months of data between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020).

Which invites a working hypothesis, or at least a question:

Where a business finds the gumption to negotiate robustly with outside counsel on price, might corporate purchasing power prevail over lawyerly inertia? Continue reading


Lawyers have long engaged in loose and hopeful speculation that law firms will stop basing their charges on the time it takes attorneys to do their work, and that corporate clients will soon be able to pay legal fees based on a pre-agreed value of attorneys’ services.

For instance, a full five years ago, the influential Georgetown Law Center / Peer Monitor’ 2017 Report on the State of the Legal Market announced, “The Death of Traditional Billable Hour Pricing” — and its replacement with “alternative fee arrangements” and “budget-based pricing”.

But the facts don’t bear this out. Witness a recent and prominent case in point reported in last Monday’s legal insider publication Above the Law: Continue reading


The Point

What’s wrong with the corporate law function? For the last 40 to 50 years C-suites and boards have taken a hands-off posture on managing Legal, leaving lawyers in-house to manage lawyers in outside firms. Most of these lawyers are pretty good at law, but they’re bad at cost control.

Lacking the will to exert cost control on their fellow attorneys in firms — and free of accountability to the C-suite or board to do otherwise — general counsels passively continue to pay for the waste inherent in the billable hour business model. And fees to law firms have increased every year for the last twenty, except for two years during the Great Recession.

Meanwhile, from 1997 to 2017, law departments went on a hiring spree of in-house talent as an “economy move” — with in-house attorneys on corporate payrolls increasing by 203%. Continue reading

Contact Information