(This is part 4 of a 4 part series. You can download the entire series below.)
Just as the NCQA established standards and elements for evaluating and regulating PCMH applicants, any number of alphabet soup entities could fulfill the same type of role in legal: the ABA, the LMA, ILTA, AALL, or my personal favorite the ACC. It doesn’t much matter who is evaluating or what authority they have, just that they are evaluating consistently and publishing an updated list of CCLP qualified firms and their associated levels achieved. We could even create a new not-for-profit organization with CCLP certification as it’s sole purpose. (Hint, hint.)
Once one firm is certified using an open standard, how long before large clients begin asking outside counsel why they aren’t certified? If a first level certification is relatively easy to achieve, as it is with the PCMH, then what excuse will firms have for not doing it? Of course, a level 1 certification begs the questions, “Why are you only a Level 1? Which elements don’t you adhere to? And why not?” A well-defined and open set of standards and elements, if evaluated fairly, should lead to an all-out arms race for firms to achieve a top-level CCLP certification. Which, if done correctly, should correlate to a better all-around experience for clients.
The hardest part will be defining those standards and elements. Here again, I think we can look to the PCMH as a guide. Of course the individual elements to achieve will be wildly different for legal, but the standards will have some overlap. The 6 PCMH standards are to: 1) Enhance Access and Continuity, 2) Identify and Manage Patient Populations, 3) Plan and Manage Care, 4) Provide Self-Care Support and Community Resources, 5) Track and Coordinate Care, and 6) Measure and Improve Performance.
Adjusting for legal specific terminology, these all kind of work as is. We would want a CCLP certified firm to meet the minimal obligations to Enhance Client Access to firm resources, Identify and Manage Client Populations (Business Intelligence), Plan and Manage Matters, Provide Self-help Legal Support and Resources, Track and Coordinate Matters, and Measure and Improve Performance over time. There are probably better ways to phrase these standards and there may be more or different standards we should add, but even with this simple translation a proto-CCLP could begin to take form.
My intention is not to say that the legal industry should immediately adopt this concept as pioneered by the medical industry and run with it, but to suggest that maybe a more holistic approach to imagining the future of law is called for. Here on the 3 Geeks blog we each have our areas of interest and we all attend our separate conferences to discuss the roles of technology, knowledge management, library and information management, project management, pricing, competitive intelligence, and on and on and on… But maybe we need to think a little bigger. Rather than trying to fix the law firm model one discipline or one system at a time, maybe we should put the client in the center and rebuild the firm around them. If we can imagine and define that type of firm, then we can give firms a path to follow and a goal to strive toward, and we can give clients a series of metrics with which to evaluate the quality of the legal services they are receiving.
see the following articles and resources:
the Test of Health Reform? JAMA Vol. 301, No. 19 May 20, 2009
WL, et. al. “Initial Lessons From the First National Demonstration Project
on Practice Transformation to a Patient-Centered Medical Home” Annals
of Family Medicine Vol. 7, No. 3 May/June 2009
PCMH Standards and Guidelines (2011) in PDF format for free. Requires