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MAGNA-FYI Quarterly - April 2011
MAGNA-FYI Quarterly - April 2011
5 YEARS
Celebrating Five years of End to End Legal Support
Download the full PDF
Download the full PDF
Streaminglining Relationships with Outside Counsel
Streaminglining Relationships with Outside Counsel
April 16 an 17, 2012 - Naples, Florida
Overruled by Joe Aronds
Overruled by Joe Aronds
Overruled by Joe Aronds
Jury Confirm 2.0
Jury Confirm 2.0
Jury Confirm 2.0
Graphics Consulting
Graphics Consulting
Graphics Consulting
Magna Legal Services
Magna-Fy Staff
Peter Hecht
Editor-In-Chief
Bonnie Schmonsees
Designer
Back Issues
Contents: April 2012
Contents: April 2012
Contents: April 2012 Contents: April 2012
Editor’s Note: Peter Hecht, Executive VP of Sales, Magna Legal Services
Peter Hecht
Friends of Magna,

So...a couple of weeks ago I added another year to my 40’s. In case you’re wondering, I’m now 44. While I’m not the youngest or the oldest partner here, and I can’t tell you who is the oldest, I do want to wish my firm a belated Happy Birthday. Magna Legal Services celebrated an amazing birthday of 5 years in business on February 22nd.

I can still remember that first month, my partners and I were all huddled in a small conference room making our Jerry McGuire phone calls and establishing our initial sales and operations infrastructure. We grew from one small conference room in Philadelphia to a 16,000 square foot, cutting edge litigation conference center with a strategic sales and graphics design studio in NYC and offices in NJ, DE, SC, TX, DC, LI, CA and IL. I only wish we had cameras following us around for a reality show. Those early days held a lot of intrigue and once in a lifetime moments.

Five years later what I think makes our firm special is that we haven’t lost sight of our core values and beliefs that inspired us in that little conference room. I mean it, we really are still connected to them and I see the proof every day in our employees.

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Buyer’s Market: Interview with Mike Caplan
Mike Caplan
Mike Caplan, Chief Operating Officer for the global legal operations of Marsh & McLennan Companies, emphasizes that although this is a buyer’s market when it comes to dealing with outside counsel, building preferred partnerships is the long-term strategy. He also does the industry research to back him up in pushing for alternative fees instead of the billable hour as a standard.

The key to saving the money is negotiated fees – a set amount of money for specific work – versus billable hours. But there’s plenty of fine print. Cribbing from one of your past presentations, when dealing with outside counsel you consider things such as fee arrangements negotiated with other firms, and routine matters that don’t require a wide range of expertise and where it is easy to predict the required tasks. Then, you also have a database with all your stats and information, and you review that over time as a basis for ongoing discussions regarding the work you do with outside counsel.

My focus is on creating partnerships with outside counsel for the long-term. As a company, we manage spend and work with our counsel to ensure it’s a win-win relationship. We have implemented technology solutions that provide me with spend analytics and key data points on rates, fees, attorneys, expenses, transactions, etc. I use this data to manage negotiations and ensure that we are in line with the rest of the industry. With the financial crisis in 2008, law firms cut their fees. In 2010, they started to raise their prices to make up for that, but people said, “Wait a minute.” We’re just smarter, and we have more data on what matters such as litigation and corporate transactions should cost.

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My Experience as a Young Associate
Sleepy Young Associate
I have probably written 2,600 words this week. Two sets of discovery requests. One confidentiality stipulation. Interrogatory responses. Research memos. A motion to dismiss. Multiple drafts of each …

I have probably read hundreds of thousands of words this week. Rules. Regulations. Contracts. Correspondence. Client documents. Case law. The list goes on …

I have spoken an unquantifiable number of words this week. (A more sharptongued, seasoned lawyer would likely have been more succinct. Unfortunately, after only two and one-half years of practice, I am only beginning to emerge from the category of “young associate,” so some blabbering can be expected, right?)

These are the words that have kept me up for the past hour. Lying in bed, restless. These are the words that convinced me I should probably get out of bed and start writing this article …the 700 words that, until now, I haven’t had time to write.

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All Real Estate is Political: Growing Ideological Divide and Trial Strategies in Construction Cases
construction site
Have you ever heard surrogate jurors discuss your arguments in jury research with full understanding and then discard them as irrelevant to their final decision? Have you ever had an experience of losing a case that seemed logical and strong?

In a middle class, mostly Republican venue, jurors discuss alleged violations of Federal regulations by an owner of a construction project. The allegations are part of the defenseput forward by the construction company accused of poor workmanship. Initially, all seems well for the construction company, but as the discussion progresses, the jurors are increasingly putting themselves in the shoes of the owner, finding more excuses for why he evaded, ignored and broke government regulations. The end result: regulations are found to be broken, but the violations are deemed irrelevant and the construction company is viewed as responsible for all the alleged defects.

A government agency claims that it has no obligation to follow its contract because it was not the contract it intended to sign. The contract involves insurance coverage for multiple construction projects. The insurance company argues that the contract was negotiated by experienced insurance brokers on both sides and clearly says what it says. The case is in a multicultural Democratic, mixed-income venue. In deliberations, jurors show disdain for the government agency and its wasteful ways – before both deliberating groups find against the insurance company, which they see as being sneaky and exploitive of government inefficiency.

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