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At the end of 2008, 75% of law departments surveyed in the Altman Weil Flash Survey on Law Department Cost Control said they were facing budget cuts in 2009. In fact, nearly one-third reported that those cuts would include layoffs of support staff and attorneys. Today, many departments are avoiding further legal team layoffs by doing more in-house, reports Altman Weil’s James Wilber, a principal and senior law department consultant at the company.i
While this trend forces legal departments to take on larger roles, both to maximize limited internal resources and to reduce their reliance on outside counsel, it underscores the importance of an interdisciplinary team and effective project management. Organizations that fail to incorporate those two critical factors are certain to further erode their talent pool and ineffectively combat the cost crisis.
That crisis prompted an in-house lawyer to recently comment, “You can't sneeze in modern litigation without spending a couple of million dollars.” Expenses have adversely impacted so many organizations that the Association of Corporate Counsel started The Value Challenge initiative to foster a cross-disciplinary discussion between in-house counsel and their law firm counterparts about legal costs and alternative billing.ii The foundation for that campaign is collaboration and a community-oriented approach to team-building.
The reason this is such a critical concern: the number of in-house lawyers is shrinking, but legal departments are mandating that those who remain “insource” more of the discovery process. While technology is a natural way to drive efficiencies, there is a perennial fear that the work product will be substandard. Legal departments must find the right technology to increase efficiency, speed processes and increase reliability.
At this watershed moment in legal history, corporate counsel must work better, faster and cheaper. This white paper will identify proven methods for team-oriented lawyers to enhance project management, streamline logistics, and incorporate technologies like electronic redaction, which have a measurable and immediate return on investment.