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  Organization and Resources of the Legal Department

The configuration and deployment of legal resources must be synchronized with corporate, business unit and legal department goals. Legal service teams must reconcile geographic imperatives with expertise. Our offerings deal with

legal specialities
legal team and business unit alignment
cross-border and multi-site legal departments
functional - operational reporting of legal teams
resources for the legal department

For further information on structuring and resources for your legal department, contact Richard Stock at or (416) 367-4447.

Articles on Legal Department Organization

Resistance or Collaboration

Buying Legal Council, 2017 November 10
"Resistance or Collaboration"
Lexpert, Vol. 19, No. 3, January-February 2018

There are 3 ways for Directors of Legal Operations to collaborate with Procurement professionals when the company decides to be more structured when retaining external counsel. The first is to collate solid data on consumption patterns for legal services: fees and hours by area of law; volumes by complexity level; detailed matter budgets. The second opportunity for collaboration concerns leading practices, technology, and infrastructure related to workflows and service delivery. With this comes structured practices and results applied to law firm performance. The third area of collaboration between legal operations and procurement is the migration away from hourly-based fee arrangements.

The Director of Legal Operations

Lexpert, July-August 2017, Vol. 18, No. 7

Four factors drive law departments to hire legal operations professionals and management: resource management and organization including staffing, budgets, facilities and technology; increasing demand for legal and advisory services; more innovative and effective management of external counsel; and the insatiable appetite to demonstrate measurable value of the law department to the company. The article profiles 5 Directors of Legal Operations suggesting that law departments with more than 10 lawyers should have one on board.

The Legal Weather Forecast

Lexpert, May 2015, Vol. 16, No. 7

Up to 50% of the operational support provided by law departments to business limes can be standardized or kept with business units. There are 5 steps to preparing a good business plan for the law department: alignment with corporate priorities, detailed work estimates, work allocation protocols, improving practice management, and metrics. Accurate forecasts and good business plans improve the value of the law department.

World Class Effectiveness

Lexpert, February 2015, Vol. 16, No. 4

A 4-part assessment tool to guide law departments is profiled and critiqued. It covers opportunities for creating value in the company, optimizing talent for higher value work, operational effectiveness, and the effectiveness of external counsel. The article comments on the 20 segments supporting the assessment and suggests several new assessment questions.

Arrested Development

Lexpert, July-August 2014, Vol. 15, No. 9

Legal and corporate priorities are a frequent distraction for General Counsel trying to change the practice management and work allocation patterns of the legal department. Four management skills are essential to meaningful change in how legal resources are managed: a focus on results rather than process; a commitment to innovation with external counsel; a strategic business sense; and the efficient use of time for administrative matters.

The Case for Adding a New Lawyer

Lexpert, March 2014, Vol. 15, No. 5

Adding to the headcount of a legal department depends on having a detailed forecast of the overall demand for legal services. It also benefits from changing the working protocols with clients and in the department to ensure a measureable improvements in the productivity of the department. Finally, the financial aspects of the business case to add a lawyer should demonstrate that net savings when insourcing are at least 50% of fees after paying for the new position.

The Smarter Legal Model

Lexpert, March 2013, Vol. 14, No. 5

"The Smarter Legal Model" asks legal departments to balance three imperatives: total cost, internal head count, and coverage / compliance / client satifaction. The last grouping requires detailed needs analyses for each stakeholder focused on Faure's "core legal essentials". These must be measured and improved.

To Plan, Or to Improvise

Lexpert, January 2013, Vol. 14, No 3

The alignment of work type and complexity with the experience levels of members of the legal department should be managed rather than improvised. General Counsel should introduce formal programs for work intake and allocation. This should be a part of a legal department's formal annual business plan - one that is aligned with corporate priorities and which makes a strategic contribution to the organization.

When Your Company Grows
Lexpert, September 2011, Vol. 12, No. 10

Innovation and entrepreneurship are necessary products of tough economic times. Alignment of legal departments with key business units makes inside counsel a strategic business contributor. Four considerations are important: knowing the corporate business plan, anticipating the configuration of legal work, making the legal performance plan a centerpiece for individuals, and setting priorities for the department.

Human Resources in the Legal Department
CCCA Magazine, Fall 2011, Vol. 5, No. 3 and
The Australian Corporate Lawyer, Spring 2011, Vol. 21, No 3

Five components of a performance management program for a Legal Department are presented: position descriptions and competencies; goal-setting; training and development; compensation; and career management. The article links goal-setting to competencies for counsel. It discusses the number and weighting of objectives and the need for them to meet the SMART test. Finally, a delineation of levels or progression of the lawyer over time is presented.

Adding a New Lawyer
Lexpert, April 2011, Vol. 12, No. 6

Before a business case can be made to add a lawyer to the legal department, there must be evidence that its members are as productive as they can be. A senior litigator is often justified to act as a litigation manager when external legal spend on disput resolution exceeds $1 M per year. Time is needed to ensure legal project management, alternative fee arrangements and matter budgets are diligently applied. For other specialties, 600 hours of work which would otherwise be referred to external counsel is a good threshold to remember when justifying a new lawyer after in-sourcing.

«Achieve a New Balance»
Lexpert, Vol 12, No. 5, mars 2011

The Nuts and Bolts of Cost-Effectiveness
CCCA Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 1, Winter 2011

Three steps are suggested to develop a range of solutions to improve the efficiency of a law department. The first is to determine the capacity of the departmetn by categorizingn adn quantifying the legal, advisory, administrative and strategic work it does. The second step is to characterize and measure the demand for legal services for a 3-year period. The last step helps to sort the cast of the department as a way to work with its "cost-effectiveness". This is done by establishing its fully-loaded hourly rate and setting KPIs for its reduction. Finally, departments must become much more forward in gathering data about their effectiveness from primary users.

Building Leverage Strategically
Lexpert, Vol. 11, no 4, March 2010

An effective legal department needs "strategic leverage" to shape corporate priorities, influence the deployment of resources and to ensure that its contributions are recognized. Building this leverage means finding the right combination of legal/advisory work, shifting the competencies of department members, and expanding the capacity of the department and its firms to deliver what is needed.

Of Clouds and Silver Linings
Lexpert, Vol. 10, no 8, June 2009

Legal departments can do three things to better manage until the end of 2011. The first is to estimate the demand for legal services by specialization, business unit complexity, and number of hours. The second is to better manage work intake and workflows into the law department and re-calibrate the use of external counsel since demand will usually outstrip total resources. The third is to introduce three key performance indicators (KPIs) to change priorities and behaviours in the use of external legal services.

The Global Legal Department
CCCA Magazine, Vol 3, No 2, Summer 2009

Globalization of business has resulted in the consolidation of corporate legal departments, often re-locating them outside of Canada. Five characteristics are proposed for “best-in-class” legal departments. Good alignment of the legal department with corporate priorities is likeliest when the top five priorities of the department are the same as the targets of the business units, at least 50% of the department's resources are dedicated to these priorities or to key projects, and when the department's annual plan is reduced to writing. A survey of CLOs from a select number of global law departments found that their two biggest challenges are to manage department workflow / workload and to reduce external legal expenses.

Innovation in Legal Services - Doing More With Less
Inside Counsel, Summer edition, 1997

Pressures faced by General Counsel within their organizations: the pressure to innovate, manage/reduce resources used to provide services; how external counsel can help legal departments deliver greater value to their organizations; suggestions on how General Counsel can demonstrate innovation and communicate its value to the organization.

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