Corporate law departments were once allowed to function passively, handling matters brought to them by their internal clients and working with outside counsel with little oversight by corporate management. Those days passed long ago.
Now law departments must satisfy the expectations of their companies’ managements that they (i.e., the in-house lawyers) will proactively manage the companies’ legal affairs and related matters with attention both to successful outcomes and to delivering and managing cost-efficient service.
What does that portend for the law department of today? The current economic and financial environment mandates – more than ever before – that all corporate functions pursue efficiency relentlessly. Corporate management rightly expects that all units of the company, including the law department, will focus on that pursuit in addition to their “full time jobs.” In that context, the corporate legal function must drive toward that goal throughout its operations. Both internal and external resources must share that commitment for the organization to deliver legal service most efficiently. In short, the company’s lawyers must ensure that they collectively provide the company the highest value legal service possible to enable the firm to achieve its business objectives.
Success in that regard depends upon the following: a thorough understanding of the company’s historical use of legal service (both internal and external); a strategic approach to the selection and deployment of all of the company’s law-related resources to serve the company’s needs in that regard; and an appreciation for the tools available that can deliver both short-term and long-term improvements to the delivery of legal service to the company’s operating units. The cost of the legal service needed for the company to deliver its products or services to the market must represent the lowest possible cost consistent with the quality and other necessary qualities for the business. In other words, the legal resources must deliver the greatest value possible to the company.
Success also depends, however, on ensuring that all elements of the department’s management work synergistically. The department’s internal systems should support its relationships with outside counsel, its budgeting protocols should tie into the fee arrangements with the company’s law firms and other aspects of its management of the company’s affairs should integrate seamlessly.
Lauer & Associates can assist your law department to achieve that goal. Building on earlier experience helping law departments control the costs of their legal service and drive efficiency throughout their operations, Mr. Lauer has developed an approach that ties together effectively the identification, retention and deployment of all law-related resources – both internal and external – needed by a company and the firm provides its corporate legal clients unsurpassed understanding of their needs and the changing dynamics of the legal profession.