By Annalise Haigh

quality-speed-efficiency-cost-1

2020 is fast becoming the year of big change.  And it’s coming from all directions. External forces are requiring business leaders to consider not just traditional business indicators, but also political, social and environmental impacts.

Internally, business operating models are being restructured to adopt to the changing markets, brought on by an increased consumer demand for a “tech savvy” service, and a new wave of corporate leaders who do things differently to the previous generation.  A “normal” change you might say, but still one that has huge impact on business – teaching an old dog new tricks is a difficult task.

In amongst all these requirements to change, business leaders are asking / being asked to reduce costs.  The uncertain global times means that the future is increasingly unpredictable, and businesses need to be ready and prepared for all scenarios, as much as possible.  We all learnt from the great “Global Financial Crisis”, and companies (rightly so) are preparing for the next downturn predicted for the next coming year or so.

But of course, with all this change, to throw a spanner in the works, is the demand to reduce costs and focus on margins… all while the business demands more.  More value, high quality and greater coverage.

Legal services are renowned for being expensive, but legal is a crucial part of any business, particularly large multinational corporations, so how do you reduce costs, maintain (and improve) value without sacrificing quality?

Luckily the solution is readily available and in fact, this conundrum provides a great opportunity for legal departments.  It’s the time to reconfigure, look at the legal department strategic goals, its outputs, its supply chain, and ensure that third-party partners are the right fit for the strategic outcomes.

There are many ways to reduce external and internal spend, while still maintaining value and providing high quality work:

  1. Managed Legal Services (MLS) – this is your “external in-house team”.

MLS is the outsourcing of projects or specific work streams to a third party to, as the name suggests, manage the project.  The third-party team acts as an extension of the in-house team and works closely with them to ensure the delivery is aligned to the business needs.  This is key to maintain quality and ensure value.  Crucially, it incorporates people, process and technology.  People to manage and complete the work, efficient processes for high quality delivery and technology to support the people and processes.   From a budget perspective MLS can provide savings of at least 25% per project compared to in-house people (much more when compared to law firms).  See the below case studies for examples of how MLS can be adopted.

Key: There are many providers all with different offerings and price points.  It’s important to do your research and speak to the experts and understand what you want/need.

  1. Legal operations, process and tech – this is your “transformation toolbox”

Legal operations is the backbone of the legal department.  It gives you the structure and the toolkit that a legal department needs to ensure that it can achieve its goals.  Building up internal capabilities to assess data, manage costs, manage change management, manage technology within the legal team is crucial.  It all affects your team’s output – better, efficient, data driven – and it ensures that the legal department is an asset, not a hindrance, to business growth.  In 2019, 74% of GCs who invested in legal operations saw increased efficiency by between 15% to 50%.  See the below case studies for examples of how process + tech can be implemented.

Key: Getting the ball rolling is key.  Speak to an expert about your pain points and then they can point you in the right direction.  Beware of technology implementations without a proper assessment of your processes.

  1. Secondment style resourcing – this is your cost effective / capacity overflow resource without increasing permanent headcount

This is not new, it’s been available in the industry for the last decade, by law firms and ALSPs alike.  However, the market use case has changed in the last few years.  It’s still used for capacity overfill, but more and more it’s been used more strategically.  In 2019, 71% of GC’s used ALSP’s for specialist expertise, with risk and compliance being the biggest growth area for this resource.  It’s also extremely cost effective – 33% saving per day when compared to an in-house hire and a 55% saving per hour when compared to mid-sized law firm.

Key:  Move quickly.  Consulting moves quickly, with consultants’ availability changing depending on demand.  Having processes set up to ensure you can move quickly to decision ensures you get the best talent for the work.

If you want to learn more about the above, we love a chat and a coffee, so please reach out.

Case Studies: 

MLS case study:

Our client operates a global platform that provides online hotel booking services and is headquartered in Singapore. The client wanted to innovate its business and enter into a new business stream, where it had no previous touch points and potentially high legal and regulatory risk.  It needed expert legal and compliance support fast.

KorumLegal’s MLS solution included the following:

  • A team of experienced consultants with practical industry knowledge and experience and regional know-how, which the client was able to leverage and tap into to educate management and key personnel on the requirements.
  • The client leveraged our team’s legal project management skills to provide robust project governance and oversight to ensure the project remained on track and meets project milestones and allow for continuous improvement opportunities to be captured.
  • An overall project roadmap and project management plan was built by the team which defined the main deliverables and milestones to be delivered in each phase.

The end result is that our MLS team supported the client to develop and implement a full regulatory and compliance programme for APAC.  The next stage is to optimise our team’s regional experience with regulators and support the client to apply for strategic licences.

 

Process + Tech case study: 

A small foreign law firm based in Singapore specializing in arbitration and dispute resolution regionally and in Europe, joined Lighten-up as they wanted to introduce technology into their practice.  They were still carrying out their client triage and onboarding process manually, recording client’ details in Excel – a time consuming task. They did not have a Practice Management System (PMS) and were keen to have more automation, as well as have a PMS for matter tracking, time-recording, notifications, invoice generation and reports.

KorumLegal worked with the client on a two-pronged approach:

  1. We provided the law firm with high-level mapping for the digital journey.  We drilled down into the process of client engagement and onboarding, and did process mapping which highlighted the repetitive and non-value add activities.
  2. We introduced several vetted LegalTech vendors to the client for their PMS solutions and a dispute resolution tool that could have been utilized for arbitration. Both established vendors as well as start-ups were curated so as to provide the firm with a choice of whether they wanted a plug and play solution or have a bespoke solution customized for them.

This resulted in a refinement of the firm’s onboarding processes “cutting the fat” to increase efficiencies by up to 35% – without the tech implementation.

See below for a few stats on how the above solutions can help you fulfil your legal department dreams:

Annalise is a member of the KorumLegal team with a passion for innovative and smart legal solutions. She practiced for many years in a top-tier law firm and has experience in private M&A and company law. She believes the legal industry needs a breath of fresh air and is excited to embrace new legal solutions and LegalTech.

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