Insurance companies and risk management services are becoming increasingly more savvy about performance metrics than are the attorneys and firms who are being measured against them. Many attorneys are unaware of the categories and parameters they are being evaluated against. And unless a lawyer has a particularly candid with his insurance client, he is likely in the dark as to how he compares to other panel counsel.
Below are some common performance metrics categories being used to analyze attorney efficiency and effectiveness:
How long are your files open?
The cycle time can be an indicator of how efficiently attorneys are managing their caseloads. In many states, the time it takes to get a case from filing to trial can vary wildly from county-to-county. Cycle times are likewise variable when considering practice area and the complexity of individual cases. But over the course of time, the amount of time your cases are open should be an indicator of your case management efficiency.
Are your billables and expenses reasonable and within budget?
Some cases are going to cost more than others. Multiple party or fact witness depositions. Biomechanical and accident reconstruction experts. Site inspections. Thousands of pages of document review. It’s understandable and often completely necessary in order to properly evaluate a case. But are you communicating that to your client? Are the time and expenses you’re incurring on a file truly necessary, or can they be interpreted as bill padding and driving up the costs of defense?
Are your settlement and verdict evaluations accurate?
An injury that’s worth $40,000.00 in one Alabama county could easily be worth $400,000.00 in another. Your claims representative likely isn’t as familiar with the venues in your state as you are. They rely on you to provide appropriate case valuations so they can set their reserves. On a larger scale than your individual case, your insurance client is managing hundreds or thousands of such cases.
Your accurate case valuations enable the insurance company to effectively manage risk over the course of time, or to the contrary, your inaccurate evaluations inhibit their ability to manage risk and operate a profitable business. Additionally, your settlement and verdict evaluations directly affect your adjuster and their team manager, who are likely your direct points of contact and key cogs in maintaining a good relationship with your client.
How compliant are you with reporting deadlines?
Few things will put you in the bad graces of an adjuster than consistently failing to produce scheduled reports. What may seem like arbitrary deadlines typically are not. The attorney’s failure to report has a chain reaction. The adjuster is then unable to provide necessary information to his superiors at roundtable meetings. The team manager does not have the data he needs for conferencing with claims supervisors, ad continuum. On the other hand, timely and thorough reporting ingratiates you with your client and allows everyone to look good.
Are you communicating developments in the case?
Even when no formal reports are due, are communicating with your claims representative? If their claims notes are going months at a time without an entry from you, that’s not ideal. If your adjuster is regularly the one to call or email you asking what’s going on in a case, you can be sure that you aren’t communicating with them as regularly as they’d like.
Do you have expertise in the subject matter?
Have you established a relationship with a new client by pitching yourself as a trucking defense lawyer, when you’ve only ever handled personal auto cases? Your lack of knowledge in a subject area will quickly become evident to the insurance client who is immersed in these lines of coverage.
If your insurance client begins writing a new line of insurance and you represent to them that you can handle those claims, you had better be sure to be competent in the new practice area. It will quickly become evident if you’re not. And that will quickly erode the trust and rapport between you and your client.
Your insurance clients are auditing your performance based on the criteria that are important to them. Do you know what those criteria are? Are you auditing internally? If not, should you be? It may be important to know about yourself what others already know about you. Self-awareness of your strengths and weaknesses in critical case management metrics gives you the opportunity either to maintain your current course or make adjustments.