Making the rounds lately have been a number of articles and “Top 10” lists on how outside counsel can provide the best service and added value for their clients. Of course, no relationship can be its best without cooperation from both parties toward a common goal. At Butler, our guiding principles are as follows:
It is the fourth principle in this list, “To partner with our clients as a synergistic team – every step of the way,” that makes it possible to bring the remainder of our principles to fruition. More often than not, the facts and issues giving rise to our firm’s involvement in a particular matter have had a long – and often complex – history. We, as your lawyers, must sift through that history and try to quickly make sense of facts that are often convoluted and lacking any helpful context.
For this reason, I find myself often thinking about my own “Top 5 List” of things I believe would give our clients an advantage by giving us, as their lawyers, the opportunity to provide the best representation possible.
How does this happen? There are a number of potential reasons. Here are some: 1) At the time the claim file was produced to counsel, someone in a separate department, and with no personal knowledge of the file, is the person who produced it; 2) In a paperless environment, the file is divided and saved in electronic folders, but not all of them were collected to produce to the attorney; 3) The adjuster maintained his/her own file and not everything was uploaded to the insurer’s document system, or not uploaded consistently; 4) The adjuster communicated with the insured, or the insured’s representatives, by text message and did not save the texts to the file; 5) The insurer changed its document management software and only the documents in the new system were provided as the claim file; 6) Documents, including e-mails and letters, were not uploaded to the claim file in a timely fashion and were lost when the laptop, notebook, or other device on which the adjuster was working “crashed.”
Whatever the reason for not doing so maybe, providing the entire file helps us get a better picture of the case and avoids unnecessary discovery issues later.
Assistance with these items will go a long way in helping to put the relationship on the right footing from the start. We’ll take it from there. Now, that’s teamwork!