Need a Fall Guy? Blame the Vendor

I am the first one to admit that I can be hard on service providers because my expectations are pretty high. However, I have been told by several service providers that while I can be a pain sometimes, I am also fair and reasonable. Some of them actually enjoy working with me. Ha!

I realize that it can be difficult to find a service provider that you click with or that meets your expectations. I also realize that the service provider is bound to make mistakes. After all, humans are involved. However, I have a real problem when service providers are mistreated by their clients. I hear about it all the time and it really bothers me. There are some litigation support professionals that think it is okay to place blame on a service provider even when they know there is more to the story and that they themselves could be partially to blame. Rather than owning up to it, they let the service provider be “the fall guy”.

Sometimes this happens because the litigation support professional is on a high horse and they take advantage of the situation. Sometimes it happens because they want to save face with their attorneys. Other times it is a means to an end to ask for a credit on an invoice. I have seen attorneys get so angry at a situation that truly was not the fault of the service provider, but they end up forbidding anyone at the firm from ever using the service provider again.

I do not believe in throwing the service provider under the bus. Believe me, I have definitely fired service providers for not following directions, for making too many mistakes, for lack of communication or for missing a deadline. I am not referring to these examples of bad service. I am referring to the scenarios where the service provider did their best, but something went wrong and they end up being blamed for something they did not do. Personally, I think we should treat the service providers with respect. Some of them really do a great job and it can be a difficult job trying to keep all of their clients happy.

So, to the newbies who are trying to get into the litigation support field or recently joined us, please take into consideration that “service providers are people too” and they should not be mistreated. Please treat them how you would like to be treated and don't be afraid to defend them if necessary.



  1. Great post Amy. I think the other important point to make if you are working in a firm (speaking from experience) is, you’ll NEED your service providers to go above and beyond for you at certain times. They are a very valuable resource, and if you have invested in them, when your hour of need arises, there will be no one there for you to call on and help you out of a tough predicament. Take care of them, and they will take care of you!

    1. Another excellent point, Bowe, and I have tested this time and time again. Thanks for chiming in.

  2. Well written and to the point post. As a contract attorney who just finished a rather large project with a ‘top’ law firm where the blame game only went into one direction, I can only agree with you. It seems to be a mindset matter at law firms nowadays to blame the service provider, regardless! Of course the attorneys, counsel and – god forbid – partners would never ever misjudge production deadlines agreed upon, lack in communication themselves or methods. What was interesting that the PM for the service provider was a former Lit Sup Manager at the firm and just knew too well which way the blame flows. Didn’t stop the lawyers though….

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Trevor. I really enjoy when service providers hire law firm litigation support managers because they really “get me”. They understand exactly where I’m sitting. I worked with a service provider recently that I had worked with in the past and did not enjoy their project managers. However this time they assigned a former law firm person to me and it was like night and day. He was very responsive.

      More to your point, I have defended service providers in the past if I feel the blame is unwarranted or unfair. I’ve actually had a partner say to me in response “You don’t work for them, you work for us”.

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