Every year legal teams are expected to deliver more and more without much variation in budget. For many, this feels like an impossible task as resources are stretched to their limits but there are a few simple things you can do to make your legal team get more value for legal spend and be more productive.
1) Get your house in order
The most cost-effective way of getting work done is to keep it in-house. That’s why it’s crucial that legal teams do all they can to optimise their in-house operations and ensure maximum output.
However, a third of in-house lawyers that we’ve spoken with report that lack of processes and inefficiencies pose a significant challenge in their role. Not only is it frustrating but in-house lawyers can’t afford the lost time that they inevitably cause. After all, time is money!
Time saved on back and forth with colleagues, managing a never-ending flow of contracts, and answering the same question for the 105th time this month gives much-needed time back to your team to increase their output.
By tracking the work that comes to the legal team or the questions they’re asked for a few weeks or months will identify the biggest drains on their time so you can start streamlining. Once you’ve assessed what people are most commonly asking you for, you can start getting proactive about these requests and enable the business to self-serve.
2) Empower your business to self-serve
Things like NDA and sales contract templates can be made available for teams to self-serve when paired with a playbook or SLA on when to come to legal with these routine contracts. Although this requires upfront investment, it will unlock invaluable time for your team that would normally be spent on repetitive tasks.
Lastly, looking back on the most commonly asked questions of legal can enable you to create a knowledge bank for the rest of the business to consult for FAQs before contacting the legal department.
3) Scope what you outsource
Many lawyers rightly question the value of external counsel when a 10-page memo lands in their inbox and they then have to spend an hour translating it for Dave in sales who actually needs the information. Whether it’s the format delivered (a 10-page essay memo vs a few bullet points) or being oblivious to the commercial context, it takes away from the value that external counsel provides.
A large part of this is down to work not being properly scoped beforehand. By setting parameters for external counsel from the start, you remove the risk that they go beyond the scope and start running up a hefty bill, or provide unusable advice. By requiring yourself to ask critical questions such as what stakeholders are involved in this matter, or what the desired practical outcome of the work is, i.e. to enable Dave to sell in to a new country, you can prevent these frustrations.
4) Assess your firms for quality and cost-efficiency
Lastly, legacy relationships with expensive law firms which have some far-off origin and just potter on unquestioned are a big issue in some legal departments. In order to really take back control of your legal spend, you need to assess the firms you use and see if their costs are justified, and if the work they provide is of a high enough standard.
If you find yourself going back and forth with a certain firm on the same matters or have to spend hours reworking a document they were responsible for, it’s time to think about whether these firms really deliver the value you pay them for, be it their expertise and knowledge or the fact you don’t have the capacity internally.