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LegalJune 01, 2023

CLOC Global Institute: Controlling legal spend with legal operations

The 2023 CLOC Global Institute provided a great opportunity to connect with legal operations professionals and listen to them talk about what they are looking for in their legal ops solutions. We were also pleased to host a panel session called “Reaching the Summit on Legal Spend” featuring Ryan O’Leary, Research Director, Privacy and Legal Technology at ICD, and Stacy Lettie, Chief of Staff to the GC and Director of Strategic Planning at Organon, along with Jeff Solomon, our Vice President and Segment Leader for LegalVIEW® BillAnalyzer.

For those who were not able to join us, we’re summarizing a couple of highlights from the session. Among the topics our panelists covered, three of the most compelling for the audience were the discussions on billing guidelines, vendor management, and artificial intelligence.

Billing guideline enforcement

Billing guidelines are an important tool for legal departments seeking to control costs and maximize outside counsel value. When beginning the effort to improve enforcement, legal teams should consider benchmarking their guidelines against industry standards. This can help identify areas where the current guidelines may be lacking. Improving the guidelines themselves will help improve enforcement to deliver even more value.

Legal organizations should also carefully evaluate historical invoices to truly understand what outside counsel firms have been billing for and how well that conforms to the guidelines. This can be a time-consuming project, but it is very important to fully understand the starting point in order to measure the success of the improvement effort later on. The output of this analysis will also be helpful in opening a dialog with law firms about their level of guideline compliance and where they should focus in order to improve it.

At that point, a technology solution such as LegalVIEW BillAnalyzer, which leverages both artificial intelligence and human expertise, can help increase billing guideline compliance. The BillAnalyzer service is also available to help law firms better understand the guidelines and how to comply with them. Most often, the company’s outside counsel relationships are improved while costs are reduced.

Vendor management

An effective program of vendor management leads to positive law firm relationships and well-managed legal spend. Here are two of the keys to successful vendor management, emphasized by our speakers.

  • Law firm panels: Consolidating the legal department’s work with a select list of firms is essential because it allows the corporate legal team to leverage their spend and improve their buying power. Panel creation is the ideal opportunity to pre-negotiate rates and to ask for the billing discount you want and expect.
  • Vendor scorecards: Legal operations teams should use a scorecarding tool that facilitates law firm evaluations based on outcomes, as well as more nuanced traits such as billing practices, feedback from business partners, diversity trends, and budget performance. Legal professionals should use these scorecards in annual or biannual meetings with firms and should use them to conduct apples-to-apples comparisons of all the firms they engage.

AI in legal ops

Our speakers encourage the use of artificial intelligence but recommend a well-thought-out approach to the technology. For example, generative AI can be helpful to some legal professionals, but users should never enter sensitive data into large language models (such as ChatGPT) because there is no way to be certain that the service provider will keep it safe.

Also, their recommendation is to look for opportunities for AI to improve existing processes and programs, rather than assuming AI should be leveraged everywhere in the legal department. They suggest developing a gap analysis that can help flag those areas where the organization can get the greatest benefit for the most modest investment.

We are grateful to our guests Stacy Lettie and Ryan O’Leary for helping to make our time at the 2023 CLOC Global Institute such a success. Thanks to everyone who joined us!

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