Determining when to outsource legal services
Gail Blauer, Michael Caplan, and Nikhil Lala of InsideCounsel
Once a corporate legal department determines which services to outsource, it should next determine the ideal time to make such a transition. In assessing whether a function is ready for outsourcing, a company should determine whether the process requires further maturation within the organization before being sourced and, if so, whether they should outsource before, during or after internally transforming those processes. As LPO solutions become more commonplace in the market, corporate legal departments are beginning to take a more sophisticated approach to legal service assessment and to view LPO as a way to supplement or complement broader corporate transformation initiatives.
Dennis Kennedy, A Practical Application, American Bar Association
Lawyers tend to be unwilling to look to other professions or industries to find ways to improve their practices and work. We might call this approach “law practice exceptionalism,” the belief that nearly every aspect of the practice of law is unique and must be considered in isolation from what we see elsewhere. We all have heard or said, “But law is different. Really.”
As a result, lawyers have been reluctant to adopt approaches that have proven successful in other industries—project management techniques, business process strategies and much more. However, the inflexibility goes much further than that. Many lawyers refuse to even consider anything that comes from outside the profession. The common question is too often, “How many other law firms do x?” rather than, “How successful has x been elsewhere?”
Even though I am tempted to say that my Big Idea is simply for lawyers to look at and consider approaches that have been successful in other professions and industries, that’s not my approach. Instead, I want to focus on one example—that is, turning services into products or, if you will, the “productization of services.” (read the post)
To Make AFAs Profitable, Change the Client Relationship
Sue Reisinger, Corporate Counsel
About 22 percent of law firms in a new survey said they are profiting by offering alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) to corporate clients. But that means some 78 percent haven’t figured it out yet.
“AFAs only work when your client relationships are at the absolute highest levels of trust–not just a good relationship–but a deep, embedded relationship,” says The Mad Clientist, a blog from BTI Consulting Group. BTI partnered with Law360 to survey 750 law firm attorneys about their fees.
General counsel know a considerable amount about the law firms retained by them, the services they provide, and the fees they charge. However, those same general counsel may not know how to assemble the various kinds of data into a coherent, unified picture. For example, they may know average billing rates of their primary law firms and the number of matters worked on by those firms in the most recent fiscal year. But general counsel who believe that they can learn from the thoughtful collection and analysis of metrics may not know how to integrate those two very different kinds of facts.
In recent compliance news, Samsung faces allegations that one of its Chinese suppliers uses child labor. Whirlpool threatens to pull out of the Energy Star program and FedEx is under fire for transporting illegal pharmaceuticals. In other news, the FTC is suing Amazon for unconsented in-app purchases made by children and Google faces waves of competition activity from the EU.
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.