© SEP TEMBER 2013, ASSOCIATION OF CORPORATE COUNSEL 9
In 2010, Bank of America began its legal
value journey with the creation of the Liti-
gation Roundtable, tapping Marcy Hingst
and hiring Lani Quarmby, both experi-
enced litigators, to oversee outside counsel
management. In the two-plus years since,
that journey has continued toward con-
vergence across multiple lines of business,
resulting in close coordination with external
legal service providers, increased efficiencies
and cost savings for the company.
Quarmby credits the innovative leadership of General Counsel Gary Lynch and Director of Litigation Jana Litsey for the
success of the Roundtable, an innovative partnering and convergence model focused on reducing legal costs while delivering
high-quality legal product. Bank of America selected member
firms that had a shared understanding of the company’s goals
and its desire for collaboration, teamwork, open communication
and best practices.
“We reduced the number of external firms we worked with
from around 700 to 30,” Quarmby explains. “The Litigation
Roundtable comprises Bank of America’s go-to firms for all
Regular evaluations assess law firm performance and efficien-
cies. Tracking and reporting are essential for transparency and
vendor management. The department tracks and compiles such
data as law firm spend, hours billed, number of matters, resolu-
tion cycle time, cost per case, budget to actual, savings, volume
discounts, discovery and expert spend, and diversity metrics.
These metrics, along with several others, align with the bank’s
comprehensive vendor management program, including manage-
ment of the bank’s external counsel and third-party vendors.
Member firms are encouraged to work together and share information; this leads to greater efficiency, according to Quarmby. Bank of America conducts an annual Litigation Roundtable
Summit for all 30 of the firms and in-house litigators, providing
an in-person opportunity for interaction and collaboration
between Roundtable firms. “The Summit is an opportunity to
share best practices, subject matter expertise, coming litigation
trends, and other effective case management skills and objectives,” she says.
Quarmby cites Bank of America’s Enterprise Litigation Team
(ELT) as one of the Roundtable innovations. The ELT is a
team of in-house counsel and 13 firms selected based on subject
matter expertise and geographic reach; they handle all of BoA’s
high-volume, single-plaintiff litigation (mortgage and consum-er-related claims) on a fixed-fee basis.
“This approach has improved resolution cycle times and
decreased settlement amounts,” she says. “It avoids duplication
of effort and allows the firms to become experts in their areas.”
The ELT now handles 67 percent of BoA litigation matters.
“Know your spend,” is a favorite mantra of Lynch’s. To add
controls and accountability, the in-house legal department
instituted three other innovations: a detailed budget template,
a commitment to the use of fixed fees and the creation of a civil
litigation project management support team for discovery.
All litigation matters with more than $250,000 of anticipated annual spend require a detailed budget template.
Budgets are developed based on phases and sub-phases of a
case by timekeeper, but are not limited to outside counsel
spend; they must include an estimate of all expenses and fees,
including third-party vendors and experts. “We look at firms’
staffing models for an appropriate mix of partners and associates, provide training, and ask the firms for detailed expectations,” Quarmby says. “The Roundtable firms really work
with us as partners.” The budgeting process is the starting
point for fixed-fee negotiations and a commitment from the
law firms to control spend.
The template approach has brought greatly increased predictability to Bank of America’s legal budget. In fact, 2012 spend
was within 1 percent of forecast. The approach is being broadened to include other lines of business across the company.
“We obviously have not been immune to the critical legal issues that have confronted the global financial services industry,”
says Lynch. “We require the highest-quality legal work, but that
can be delivered even while financial efficiencies are realized.
Pursuing each without sacrificing the other has been our focus.”
In 2012, Bank of America decreased its legal expenditures
by more than 10 percent over 2011; more than 80 percent of
litigation matters are now on alternative arrangements.
“Although we’re pleased, we’re not satisfied,” Lynch says. We
remain fully committed to seeking additional means of managing expenses while providing superior legal services.” vc
Bank of America
Litigation Roundtable: On Budget, and On Top of All Costs
FROM THE JUDGES
“This example evidences a commitment to pursue
the journey toward a more effective internal
legal department and relationship with external
counsel. It also demonstrates the extent to which
having external firms understand the need to
partner for common clients is valuable and creates
efficiencies for the firms and their clients.”
“Strong, robust, across-the-board
outside counsel management.”