Insider Tips to Transforming the Legal Department
Paul Mandell, InsideCounsel
The role of the general counsel has evolved significantly over the last decade. Once a function limited to the management of cases, transactions and routine legal work, the position now includes a substantial strategy element–placing the GC in the inner circle of those making the decisions that guide the business. General counsel are expected to run the legal department more efficiently than ever before while also providing new kinds of value to the company through the strategic use of departmental assets. For today’s general counsel to have the impact that large businesses have come to expect, they must transform not only their way of thinking, but the very operation of their departments. The following are some suggestions drawn from leading general counsel to assist in this effort.
Sea Change in GC Role Requires New Competencies
E. Leigh Dance, Corporate Counsel
The demands on general counsel from their boards of directors and other stakeholders have grown in countless ways. While general counsel appreciate the rewards of their raised profile in the company, they also recognize the potential landmines. Corporate governance demands translate to more work, higher stakes and far greater finesse on the part of the general counsel.
Some general counsel are admirably meeting the new challenges, presented in a new study I compiled for the Global Counsel Leaders Circle: “Sea Change: How New Corporate Governance Demands are Elevating the General Counsel’s Job.” One executive interviewed said, “General counsel are expected to have a better understanding of the working of the board, and play the role of both ‘man of affairs’ and keeper of corporate conscience, not just technical lawyer.
Reduce, re-use, recycle: Our favorite environmentalist catchphrase has found a significance of its own in the e-discovery and document review space. A need for efficiency, cost savings and sanity has led to an organized effort to re-use data in e-discovery, recycle final work product and to drastically reduce the overall amount of data that is collected and reviewed. The most obvious way this has been accomplished is by re-using data and work product from one litigation or investigation matter in another, provided the subject matter and data collected are interrelated.
We could stop here, content with the ways technology and experience are making our job a bit easier. Or we could think outside the realm of efficiency and look to broaden the scope of our mandate. Does the data we collect over the course of litigation need to be used solely for the same purpose for which it was collected? Are there ways that we can use data collected for litigation to benefit our organization as a whole? Are there benefits to be had outside of the litigation world?
Are Law Departments and Procurement Like Oil & Water? A Case Study of an Award-Winning Recipe
Register today for Bridgeway University’s upcoming webcast that explores the ever increasing relationship between in-house counsel and corporate procurement. With the continued focus on cost control, many law departments are being asked to partner with their procurement colleagues to drive savings, but the two groups often come at the savings challenge from different, and at times conflicting, perspectives.
Is there a way to bridge the gap between the law department (who often perceives procurement as looking at legal services as “widgets”), and the procurement team (who often feels that their skills are underutilized by the law department who carefully guards their outside counsel relationships)? Join this session for a clearer understanding of the issue, and to hear a success story from a law department who seems to have cracked the code.
This webinar will benefit law department leaders and procurement professionals alike, highlighting best practices and lessons learned from those who have fought the battle and won.
Kevin Clem, Managing Director, Law Department Consulting
Justin Ergler, Director, Alternative Fee Intelligence and Analytics, GlaxoSmithKline
Determining Which Legal Services to Outsource
Nikhil Lala, Gail Blauer, & Michael Caplan from InsideCounsel
Determining whether a legal process is core or non-core to the organization’s legal department is an important consideration when determining whether to source such functions. This involves an assessment to determine how essential a particular legal service is to the company’s business. In assessing whether a legal service is core to an organization, companies should consider whether sourcing the service compromises the legal department’s ability to establish and to execute business strategies related to that service. As the LPO market becomes more mature, corporate legal departments are starting to move outsourcing beyond transaction-based legal processes to higher level capabilities, such as contract drafting and IP.
Jeff Carr, Project Management and Procurement
3 Geeks and a Law Blog
Jeff Carr announced his retirement from his GC role at FMC Technologies recently. For those who follow the legal change landscape, Jeff has been a consistent beacon, advocating for change for quite some time. His model at FMC is one of (if not THE) most successful client implementations of legal cost savings in the world. His recent Forbes article noted how the company has grown significantly since he took on the role, while his legal spend has decreased. Fortunately Jeff has stated that even though he is leaving FMC, he will not be leaving the fight for change. We would all do well to follow his future efforts.
His retirement, combined with other recent challenges got me thinking. A recent trend has been the involvement of the procurement department in helping legal departments control costs. The use of procurement is obvious, since their role is controlling costs and saving money for clients. Silvia Hodges has done a lot of work on this subject, and the role of procurement continues to evolve in this aspect.
During my professional career, I have served as a sales executive charged with “saving” dissatisfied or financially distressed clients, a consultant, a judicial clerk, and now a lawyer. Presently, I am in-house counsel for a multinational company. If I have learned nothing else throughout my career, it is the simple premise: Make your client happy (or, “it’s the client, stupid!”).
Yes, the law is an intellectually rigorous and academic profession. But it is so much more than that. The best lawyers know that being a good lawyer requires knowing the law and being an excellent salesperson. It requires emotional intelligence and insight, service-orientation, responsiveness, and a desire to serve. Now that I’ve “gone in-house,” I of course still have my clients, but also I am the client. And, as the client, here are some ways you can make me happy: