Law Department Strategy
The value of the law department is not simply to provide legal advice - it is to add value by furthering corporate objectives and helping guard against legal, regulatory and other risks. Do you and your business partners agree on your remit and responsibilities as a department? Law departments are often viewed as a cost centre or, worse yet, the business interruption department. We can help with strategic planning to determine how you will add value, optimize operational efficiency, and develop performance metrics to demonstrate your value.
An in-house law department must manage work intake, file and resource prioritization and allocation, lawyer performance, matter and risk reporting, invoices, external law firms and financial reporting. This is on top of performing its actual work of managing legal risk and providing advice. Successful departments regularly re-evaluate their own internal operations to maximize efficiency. They ensure that routine, repeatable or low value work is systematized and that tools such as checklists, guidance notes and legal education primers are available in an effective knowledge management system. We are familiar with all types of operational challenges, and because we are not affiliated with any particular vendor we can help you fairly evaluate internal tools and external technology to help your department run smoothly.
It is a commonly held misperception that innovation requires an idea to be novel, ground-breaking and transformative. In fact, many innovations are incremental developments from existing processes. They may emerge from looking at an existing process from a new perspective. Because in-house law departments are often regarded as cost centres, corporations may be slow to invest in technology for them. Indeed, some new legal technologies may be better accessed through external counsel as they may be required only periodically. However, every department can and should embrace innovation on workflow, tracking, client communications and knowledge management. We can guide you in developing internal tools or exploring external technology to improve performance.
External Counsel Management
Carefully managed and mutual rewarding relationships with the right external counsel are important to optimize use of the overall legal budget. How does the department select and manage external counsel? Are the relationships regularly reviewed for effectiveness? Is work consolidated to increase spending power or divided to keep firms competitive? Does the department have a clear understanding of what work is outsourced and what is retained internally, and who is authorized to retain and instruct external counsel? For certain categories of work or projects, has the department used RFPs or alternative billing arrangements? We can guide you in optimizing and getting the best value from your external relationships.
Enterprise Risk Management
The in-house law department is a critical partner in the development of an enterprise risk management programme. We have experience with the role of the in-house law department, and we can assist with the development of risk taxonomies as well as sizing inherent and residual risk, developing and implementing controls, and monitoring strategies. Legal risk applies to most aspects of a corporation's business and operations, and the in-house law department itself presents risk, so the pro-active involvement of the department is a key success factor.
Adding a Law Department
Is your corporation ready to bring a lawyer on board? If you are a smaller company or start-up and have relied to date on external counsel, it can be difficult to decide when to bring in-house counsel onto your team. We have experience with reviewing operations to determine whether an in-house law department is warranted, and if so what the key success factors will be in designing and staffing the team, whether one lawyer or several. We can assist with determining your legal needs, putting you in touch with the right recruiter and easing the transition with your external counsel.
External Law Firm Value Proposition
As external counsel, your approach should be very different if your primary instructing client is in-house counsel rather than a CEO, CFO or COO. Learn what in-house counsel are looking for in a law firm, and what pitfalls to avoid. Why, for example, should you always issue opinions in draft form? What matters more: speed of response or level of detail? Do you understand why and how in-house practice genuinely differs from private practice? Because we have been on both sides of the table, we can assist you in tailoring your approach to add value to and build loyalty in your relationships with your in-house legal peers.
Does your company need our services? Message us today.