There is always pressure on costs. Indeed, on in-house legal team is often seen purely as a cost center, which can make discussions over budgeting challenging. However, there are several things that legal teams can do to demonstrate their value to a business and potentially some easy ways to cut costs and improve efficiency within the legal department.
First step: Assessment
Cutting costs starts with understanding what you currently spend on. For most legal teams, there will be a combination of staff, external counsel, systems, software and administration, fees related to legal work, training, and development. Undertaking benchmarking exercises will help you identify potential areas for making savings and increasing efficiency.
Second step: Action
Once you've identified potential areas for increased efficiency and cost reduction, there are various things you can do to act on those. If you've conducted a benchmarking exercise, either in-house or with an external partner, you can approach your external counsel network and ask them to provide a new pricing proposal. With external counsel, you might consider employing requests for proposals for future activity. You may also identify areas in which you are currently using external counsel unnecessarily. For many tasks, especially related to IP management, alternative legal services providers may be able to do a large part of the work with equivalent or increased efficiency and at a lower cost.
Third step: In-house efficiency
One overlooked element of making your legal team more efficient is your ability to measure the performance of those actually working in the team. Having a robust, useful key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure progress is helpful in this regard. Cutting costs and improving efficiency for in-house legal teams requires an overview of many elements. But understanding and being able to measure those elements is vital to the ongoing performance of any department.
In short, there are three steps you need to undertake if you really want to improve the performance of your legal team: assessment, action and in-house efficiency. Start today to see the results you want, as soon as possible.