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How and why to start scoping what you outsource

After speaking with over 50 GCs, we realised that most legal teams have to rework external legal advice to make it usable internally.  

Many are at a loss as to how to get the commercial advice they need first time round. They just accept that it’s inevitable. But at Lexoo, we don’t accept that “it’s just the way it is”.

We’ve diagnosed that where legal advice goes wrong, is right at the outset, when work isn’t scoped effectively.

Why it’s time to start scoping

For many industries, diving into a project without scoping is unthinkable. How can a journalist write a Pulitzer Prize winning story without first knowing the facts? How can business consultants advise without knowing the context of the problem they’re solving? 

However, in the legal industry scoping is often overlooked. 

The current standard is a short cover note of what you’re looking for, but this lacks the depth required to deliver what you really need. The deliverable needs to be designed with the commercial purpose in mind, but without scoping the matter fully, the true value of the work can be completely missed. This leads to time wasted reworking the advice, delays for your commercial team and inflated fees where the work is not refined.

At Lexoo, by effectively scoping the work our clients send to us, we’ve been able to dramatically improve the commerciality of the advice they receive, erase the time spent reworking advice and deliver the work faster. These are just a handful of the benefits that effective scoping can provide. 

How we do it

Scoping doesn’t need to be a complicated process. It can be as simple as asking yourself “the five Ws”. 

  1. Who
    Who are you as a company? Address your commercial drivers, your risk appetite and who are the stakeholders who will be using the advice?
  2. What
    What are you trying to accomplish? Ask yourself; what is the problem we are solving? What is the deliverable? What questions need answered in order to unlock progress?
  3. Where
    Where do you need support? Which jurisdictions? Which areas of expertise? Where do we need to keep an eye out for red flags and risk?
  4. When
    When does the work need to begin? When does it need to be completed? 
  5. Why
    Why are we doing this? Consider the source of the immediate need and where it fits within the larger commercial picture.

Then we need to go one step further and ask; how?

How do you want this work delivered? How would you like to be updated about progress? How do you typically run these jobs? How could we take more parts of this work off your plate?

The outcomes 

Scoping is a skill, and just like any other skill, you get better at it over time. We scope legal matters on a daily basis here at Lexoo and are continuously improving our process. We are able to design innovative deliverables which add value to your commercial strategy as well as refine matter scopes to what is necessary to achieve your goals, while saving your team time and money. 

Sharing the necessary commercial context with your counsel enables them to tailor their advice to your desired outcome and it all starts with asking yourself a few straightforward questions upfront. The more you do it, the easier it gets and the more the benefits compound. 

Try our approach in your next engagement and let us know how it works out!

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