A wrap for 2018- our key performance indicator

Today is 31 December 2018, and as I pen this post, it is already past work hours. So 2018 work is officially a wrap.

There are certain KPIs that we keep track of in the firm, to ensure that we are on track in achieving our goals, as well as servicing our clients. One of these KPIs that I track is our win/settle vs loss ratio. Allow me to explain this ratio before disclosing what we achieved for the year.

  • A lawyer cannot win all cases, regardless whether he/she is a good lawyer or otherwise. This is because we are oftentimes tied down by the facts of the case, the documents available to us, as well as how our client has conducted themselves previously before consulting us.
  • Of course, we do our best with any case that we are instructed on, and where the facts of those cases are not favourable, then we try to achieve a settlement that will be a win for our client.
  • Even in cases where the facts favour us, our client may prefer to settle earlier rather than go through the entire process which is both costly and time-consuming.
  • For that reason, I categorise a win and a settlement together in one category, whilst losses are categorised separately.
  • Even a loss may not necessarily be an actual loss. One very dramatic case we had this year was where our client faced a claim in the region of RM10m, and eventually we lost approximately RM600k. However, to ensure that we remain honest with ourselves, I still count it as a loss (although as you can imagine, we were quite happy with that particular defeat).

Clearly then, this statistic on its own does not mean very much and cannot be used to judge whether one is a good lawyer or otherwise. In other words, you CANNOT use this statistic to compare between lawyers. A lawyer fighting political and public interest causes would expect to lose most of the time and the occasional win would be a big thing. On the other hand, a lawyer handling routine work for institutional clients would expect to win most of the time, and the occasional loss would be a big thing.

Having said that, I track this KPI for the following reasons:

  • I am comparing myself with my own past results. If previously I achieved X% win/settle vs loss and this year my results have dropped, I would want to know why.
  • I am also ensuring that I keep challenging myself. If my win/settle rate is too high, like close to 100%, then I must ask myself whether I am purposely refusing to take on the more challenging and difficult cases.

Having explained the above, and emphasising yet again that this does NOT indicate the firm’s abilities as lawyers (or otherwise), the win/settle vs loss ratio for the firm for 2018 is 78%. That is slightly less than the 80% that I aim for annually. Having analysed the results, I find that this percentage was affected by reason of the number of cases where I represent respondents in CIPAA claims – mainly employers and main contractors. CIPAA is of course the statutory adjudication process whereby the philosophy is to “pay first, argue later”. Therefore, most of the contentious issues like delay damages, defects claims etc are deferred to subsequent litigation or arbitration, and it is an uphill task to defend against a certified claim (or even a claim which has been valued but not yet certified). Even then, we have managed to successfully resist a good number of claims, or at least reduced the claim by a substantial sum.

So all in all, 78% is not bad to my mind. Of course, with the dawn of 2019, it is a clean slate and we have to work hard all over again. A wise man once said, “So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?

Here’s wishing every client and friend, associate and opponent a Happy New Year 2019. May you find much joy in your lot in life for the upcoming year.

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