Lloyd’s syndicates Brockbank and Hiscox are setting a new precedent in the insurance market by teaming up for the purchasing of legal services.
So far the syndicates have cut the number of US and UK law firms they use from 250 to 60, and they intend to have only 50 by November.
The partnership began earlier this year when Brockbank and Hiscox set up a project to see whether their relationships with firms were productive.
“We were using too many firms that didn’t know what they were doing,” says Brockbank solicitor and project head Paul Jaffe. “We decided we wanted to build closer relationships with the firms we worked with, but we obviously couldn’t do that with 250.”
Jaffe claims the focus of the project is to maximise the effectiveness of the spend rather than to cut costs, but he expects that getting a better service will automatically save money. Last year the combined spend of the two syndicates was $30m (£21.3m), split between the US and the UK.
Jaffe says that the key to maximising the effectiveness of spend is to improve communication between lawyers and clients.
He says he has written to all the firms asking for feedback on the project, and in some cases he has entered into discussions with firms concerned with the effectiveness of their relationship.
“A lot of firms have very strong ideas about the handling of litigation,” says Jaffe. “For example, some firms advocate early conferencing, which sets a clear path for both the lawyers and the clients.”
The project covers all areas of insurance, including corporate, although the majority of the changes will affect litigation in marine, aviation, property and professional indemnity, as well as high-volume, low-cost work.
But many firms were ignorant of the changes. Ten insurance partners contacted by The Lawyer were not aware of the moves.
See Leader, page 15