By Annalise Haigh


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.

Related Articles by Firm
Legal Hierarchy and Accessibility
Customers focus on value instead of the hours engaged by lawyers ...
"You can’t manage what you don’t measure"
….so said a General Counsel in a recent discussion we had about the use of data in their legal department.
More for less, more for less, read all about it!
A summary of some of the actions GCs are taking in order to turn their challenges into opportunities ...
Diversity in the workplace
Make 2020 the year of real change.
The hidden benefit of using your inbox for legal project management
How to keep the flexibility of inbox management while getting rid of the poor visibility and control.
Is it time for a leadership check?
Covid-19 is making us re-evaluate the tools we use, the way we lead and is bringing our truest values to the forefront.
Resilience and opportunity – Your survival mindset
Covid-19 is going to force change upon all of us, acting as a catalyst for adjustments to our personal and professional lives.
Use the "crisis cycle" of coronavirus to pivot your legal practice for the better
We can take this opportunity to embrace and drive change.
Contracts – Why can't we make this process more efficient?
Contracts have been around for centuries. So, why is it that it remains a long, protracted, tedious and inefficient process?
The legal operating model – five key insights
Examining the combination of roles, skills, structures, processes, assets and technologies that allow an organisation to deliver on its strategy.
Adding value – A consultant's perspective
Adapting to the client's changing needs is at the core of the role.
Navigating a looming recession: Five strategies to prepare you for the storm clouds
The most common risk-mitigation strategies that legal teams take when facing a downturn in the market.
Investing in uncertain times is not a paradox, it is a solution
Redesigning legal processes can deliver efficiency gains of between 15% and 50%.
Three key skills I wish I'd been taught in my law degree
Legal educators must arm graduates with the tools needed to embark on their legal journey.
Are you optimising project management skills in your legal department?
Because you should! We all need to upscale our skillset in areas of people, process and technology.
NewLaw takes-off in Southeast Asia
Rob Shakespeare of KorumLegal discusses the market for flexible and innovative legal solutions in one of the world’s fastest-growing regions ...
Don’t suffer FOMO* for Southeast Asia LegalTech!
Avoid the 'fear of missing out' by embracing the incredible opportunities technology offers.
Accessing new markets in APAC – Essential questions you must ask!
New market opportunities in this region are immense, but there are challenges.
How technology drives managed legal services
Managed legal services are an increasing area of focus for consumers and are starting to make significant inroads into Asia and APAC.
Creating value in law. Is it time to Stop, Collaborate and Listen?
To ensure that we’re creating excellence, we need to think, without distraction, of the bigger picture.
Payments regulatory landscape in APAC: Six things to be aware of
Important considerations for payment service providers operating in Asia Pacific.
A journey from traditional working practices to a flexible workplace
Policies that let employees work remotely can improve productivity and reduce staff turnover.
Innovation in legal services: What it is and how we do it
To begin the innovation journey, we should first understand what we are talking about.
Managed legal services: part of a new paradigm for the legal solutions market
The emergence of alternative legal solutions is giving clients a lot more choice.
Your first 10 days as a legal consultant
The challenges facing legal consultants are unique and require a different set of skills to other employees.
Nobody's got time for that! General counsel and legaltech
How to overcome the lack of time, resources and knowhow needed to implement technology solutions.
Law as a process
How process design defines value, delivers efficiency and drives business strategy.
Lifting the veil on payments
Payments companies need to understand and comply with many complex laws and regulations.
Do you have what it takes? Successful, flexible careers for lawyers
KorumLegal takes a look at the type of lawyers and consultants it works with and the appeal of NewLaw.
Related Articles
IHC Magazine: April 2024 issue featuring Firms of the Year 2023 Results
As we round off the first quarter of this year, we are proud to showcase our IHC Firms of the Year for 2023. These firms have been selected by our IHC community in recognition of their invaluable contribution to their clients’ ...
Related Articles by Jurisdiction
Latest Articles