In recent years, many corporate law departments and law firms have been challenged with the task of reducing the costs of delivering services. Similar to other businesses, in-house and outside counsel have sought to streamline activities and improve efficiencies. In order to do that, counsel needs to be able to assess their past and current billing activities.
Since their introduction about twenty years ago, Uniform Task-Based Management System (UTBMS) codes have brought some clarity to the billing and analytics process, even as the codes have suffered from significant limitations. However, innovations in analytics and predictive coding have introduced new possibilities to traditional UTBMS coding and reporting metrics. With the information that attorneys routinely provide within line-item descriptions in billing invoices, text analytics can be utilized to delve into the informational content of the task descriptions to predict what appropriate codes should be used. This may allow law firms and legal departments to:
- Develop more meaningful metrics at a much lower cost
- Gain more insight into cost-to-deliver services, which allows for a more strategic use of alternative billing arrangements
- Improve partnerships between in-house and outside counsel
Hundreds of Justice Department Attorneys Violated Professional Rules, Laws, or Ethical Standards
Source: Project on Government Oversight
An internal affairs office at the Justice Department has found that, over the last decade, hundreds of federal prosecutors and other Justice employees violated rules, laws, or ethical standards governing their work.
The violations include instances in which attorneys who have a duty to uphold justice have, according to the internal affairs office, misled courts, withheld evidence that could have helped defendants, abused prosecutorial and investigative power, and violated constitutional rights.
From fiscal year 2002 through fiscal year 2013, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) documented more than 650 infractions, according to a Project On Government Oversight review of data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and from OPR reports.
In the majority of the matters—more than 400—OPR categorized the violations as being at the more severe end of the scale: recklessness or intentional misconduct, as distinct from error or poor judgment.
The information the Justice Department has disclosed is only part of the story. No less significant is what as a matter of policy it keeps from the public.
Measuring the Effect of Defense Counsel on Homicide Case Outcomes (PDF)
Source: National Institute of Justice
Since 1993, every fifth murder case tried in Philadelphia, Pa., has been sequentially assigned to the Defender Association of Philadelphia. The other four cases are assigned to appointed counsel. This study sought to measure the difference a lawyer makes to the outcome of a serious criminal case. Compared to private appointed counsel, public defenders reduce the murder conviction rate by 19 percent, reduce the likelihood that their clients receive a life sentence by 62 percent, and reduce overall expected time served in prison by 24 percent. This suggests that defense counsel has an enormous effect on case outcomes.
To understand the difference in outcomes, researchers interviewed judges, appointed counsel and public defenders in Philadelphia. The results show that compared to the public defenders, appointed counsel are impeded by limited compensation, incentives created by that compensation, relative isolation, and conflicts of interest among both the appointing judges and the appointed counsel.
Birth Parents with Trauma Histories and the Child Welfare System: A Guide for Judges and Attorneys (PDF)
Source: National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Judges and attorneys who work in the child welfare system are well aware that many of the children in the system have experienced trauma; less well rcognized is that the birth parents of these children often have their own histories of childhood and adult trauma. For example, research indicates that 30-60% of maltreated children have caretakers who have experienced domestic violence themselves. Past or present experiences of trauma can affect a parent’s confidence and ability to keep children safe, work effectively with child welfare staff, and respond to the requirements of the courts. Fortunately, trauma-informed services are increasingly available for both parents and children who need them. Trauma-informed services include mental health services offered by trained professionals that address specific reactions to traumatic events. By recognizing the potential impact of trauma on parenting, judges and attorneys can more easily connect parents with those services.
Accessing Justice: The Availability and Adequacy of Counsel Removal Proceedings (New York Immigrant Representation Study Report: Part 1)
The problem is not a new one. For generations, immigrants facing the gravest of consequences—banishment from their homes and families—have been forced to face government attorneys in complex adversarial proceedings, unaided by legal counsel. The scale of the problem has, however, grown enormously in recent years as the annual rate of deportations has skyrocketed and the government has increasingly relied on detention as a mechanism to ensure immigrant attendance at removal proceedings. 109 The readily available national data—with 43% of immigration proceedings occurring without representation annually—is enough to alert us that this perennial problem has developed into a modern immigrant representation crisis. In order to begin to reverse the trend, however, we need to know much more than what this national snapshot has told us. The data set forth in this Report provides, for the first time, the type of detailed and nuanced analysis of the immigration representation crisis necessary to do more than wring our hands at the injustice. We now have the knowledge to begin intelligently addressing the problem.
System Overload: The Costs of Under-Resourcing Public Defense (PDF)
Source: Justice Policy Institute
Public defense systems serve millions of people in the United States every year. Nearly four out of five people charged with a crime are eligible for courtappointed counsel. Yet, despite the obvious need for a working public defense system to serve so many clients, many public defense systems across the country have been in a state of “chronic crisis” for decades.
The defender systems that people must turn to are too often completely overwhelmed; many dedicated defenders simply have too many cases, too little time and too few resources to provide quality or even adequate legal representation. Failing to provide the constitutionally guaranteed right to effective counsel, regardless of one’s ability to pay, is not simply a denial of justice, it is costly to individuals, families, communities and taxpayers.
Individuals who do not receive quality defense may be more likely to end up behind bars or with a criminal conviction that will follow them for the rest of their lives. Families are torn apart when a loved one is sent to prison or can no longer work due to the collateral consequences of a conviction. Communities suffer both in terms of public safety and through unnecessarily losing friends, neighbors and co-workers who are locked up. And taxpayers bear the monetary costs when under-resourcing legal defense results in more—and more expensive— incarceration.
Marketplace Institutions Related to the Timing of Transactions
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers
Certain markets face the problem of “unraveling,” in which competition for good talent leads a firm to make job offers earlier and earlier, without sufficient knowledge about any given applicant—and in which applicants are forced to decide whether to accept a job before they really know much about working for that firm. Harvard Business School professor Alvin E. Roth discusses how this issue affects the labor markets for new lawyers and gastroenterology fellows, as well as the market for postseason college football bowls. Key concepts include:
- The market for postseason college bowls is one in which the negative effects of unraveling can be easily quantified: If two teams are matched to play a postseason game before they have finished the regular season, it’s possible that one or both will lose some of their remaining regular season games, making the postseason bowl game less attractive to potential TV viewers than it would have been if it had featured more successful teams.
- Efforts to stop the problem of unraveling in the market for law graduates have generally been unsuccessful, as have attempts to establish uniform dates for recruiting and hiring. This proves that unraveling is a problem even in markets such as law, where salaries are easily adjustable.
- On the other hand, the market for new medical residents has faced little unraveling ever since that market introduced a stable resident matching system. This negates the idea that rigid pricing is the cause of unraveling, because the medical field generally pays its new residents uniformly across the board.
+ Full Paper (PDF)
Legal Aid in Canada: Resource and Caseload Statistics
Source: Statistics Canada
- In 2009/2010, legal aid plans spent $762 million on providing legal aid services in 11 provinces and territories, 1 which amounts to about $23 for every Canadian. After adjusting for inflation, legal aid spending was up about 4% from the previous year (Table 4).
- With the exception of Quebec and Ontario, legal aid plans spent more on criminal matters than civil matters in 2009/2010. The Quebec legal aid plan allocated 43% of its direct expenditures to criminal matters, while in Ontario the figure was 47%. In the other jurisdictions the proportion of direct expenditures on criminal matters ranged from 56% for Alberta to 74% for Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories (Table 6).
- Legal aid in Canada is funded primarily by provincial/territorial and federal governments. In 2009/2010, legal aid plans reported receiving funding totalling over $721 million with 93% of this amount coming from government sources. 2 Other funding is received by way of client contributions, cost recovery monies and contributions from the legal profession (Table 1-1).
- Provincial and territorial governments directly fund both criminal and civil legal aid. The $547 million contribution in 2009/2010 represented a 6% increase from the previous year (after inflation) and marked the fifth consecutive annual increase. In 2009/2010, funding was up in 9 of the 13 jurisdictions (after inflation), led by Manitoba at 31% (Table 3).
- The federal government contributes directly to the cost of criminal legal aid only. In 2009/2010, funding for all 13 jurisdictions totalled $112 million. After adjusting for inflation, this figure was down slightly from the year before (Table 2).
- About 745,000 applications for legal assistance were received by legal aid plans in the 11 reporting provinces and territories in 2009/2010, a decline of 5% from the previous year. The decline was driven by fewer civil legal aid applications as the number of criminal legal aid applications remained unchanged. Civil matters accounted for over half (55%) of applications received (Table 10).
- In 2009/2010, the reporting legal aid plans approved almost 500,000 applications for full legal aid services (including providing information, advice and representation in court), a decrease of 1% from the previous year. 3 Criminal matters accounted for over half (56%) of approved applications (Table 12).
- In the reporting provinces and territories, almost 10,000 lawyers from both the private sector and legal aid plans provided legal aid assistance in 2009/2010, a decline of 2% from the previous year. Private lawyers accounted for 87% of those providing legal aid services, while legal aid plan staff lawyers accounted for the remaining 13%. (Table 20). 4