Level up your legal team’s performance without adding headcount

Katie Walter

You’ve known for a long time that you can’t grow headcount at the same pace that the work increases. The business constantly needs more, different, and faster work, and adding new positions to match the rate is a losing proposition.

Consider adding some oomph to your existing team’s capabilities by using tools that simplify the busy work and deliver insights and wisdom that help you create real value. Doing this will allow your current employees to grow in their roles and the team to expand its capabilities.

Legal know-how tools extend your capabilities

Legal teams often bring in outside counsel when facing a new matter. It could be a complicated intellectual property matter or a new deal structure the sales team wants to experiment with. You must find someone to take it on if there are no internal experts. For one-off projects, you might send it to outside legal counsel; for ongoing matters, like a new type of contract, you might have to hire.

Legal teams using Thomson Reuters Practical Law can take on new types of matters more quickly. Practical Law offers know-how tools like checklists, practice notes, and legal updates that effectively extend your capabilities and help anyone on the legal team get started with confidence.

A team of more than 650 dedicated full-time attorney editors writes Practical Law’s resources based on their years of practice in the world’s leading corporate law departments, law firms, and government agencies. They clearly explain a legal issue or challenge and list the steps to handle a matter effectively. Their mentorship and expertise can help your in-house team extend their skills and provide new value to the business.

Legal management improves collaboration, reduces busy work

Often departments add new headcount to alleviate the administrative burden inherent in the work; an efficient task management and collaboration tool can improve the team dynamic and increase efficiency by automating manual tasks. The team will experience less overwhelm and focus more on using their legal expertise.

“At the end of the day you’re trying to save time so you can focus on things that have real value to the business,” not on time-wasting administration issues. That’s according to James Hall, general counsel at Skyview Capital. Hall and his team use the legal management software HighQ from Thomson Reuters to streamline operations. “HighQ can do things a lot quicker and more efficiently,” Hall says.

Hall implemented HighQ in conjunction with headcount growth on his team. He was building a global team of legal experts and he wanted to enable them to collaborate and avoid low-value work that could be automated — to let each colleague deliver maximum impact. The team uses HighQ to manage tasks rather than trying to track to-do lists and statuses in Outlook. The workflow management tool automatically produces task lists, gathers feedback, and reminds people of their deliverables and due dates.

Hall and his team use HighQ to enable business self-service for nondisclosure agreements and to develop contract templates for routine matters. They can see all the matters in process and report easily on work volume. He easily built charts to see where the most matters and claims were originating so he could advise the business on areas for improvement — that work would have taken hours for an individual to compile manually.

Efficiently manage outside counsel

Outside counsel are an important extension of any in-house law department. Whether they augment your day-to-day staff or come in only for bet-the-company litigation or transformational deals, you must manage them.

Thomson Reuters Legal Tracker is the most widely used software for matter and spend management. It integrates project management, e-billing, and performance analytics. Using that data is an effective manner of understanding the work your outside counsel partners are doing, the results they’re getting, and the bills they’re sending you.

“Tracker has been great for our smaller law department,” said Larry Gang, assistant general counsel at Vail Resorts. “With only a few inhouse lawyers, we are able to efficiently audit invoices from all of our firms, manage budgets and documents, and track key information online. We can also quickly generate the management report that we need.”

Rather than monitoring outside counsel themselves, your legal team can rely on Legal Tracker to support the enforcement of timekeeper rates, expense compliance, and alternative fee arrangements. You’ll also know if an engagement is at risk of going over budget.

With fewer surprises at invoice time, you can talk with outside counsel about the legal strategy and collaborate rather than hash out bills and budgets. You and your team can deliver more significant insights and value to the business without adding staff to track complex bills and matter outcomes.

The legal department is critical to the success of any business, but they often feel squeezed for resources. Usually, you can get farther faster by adding new technology that scales with the business rather than adding too much headcount. Putting modern tools and processes in place can also help protect the team when the headcount shrinks. Using technology to grow your team’s output and capabilities is an incredibly cost-effective strategy that helps you regardless of economic conditions.

Technology is a critical enabler for in-house legal teams. Learn more about the tools Thomson Reuters offers to help you scale your impact without growing your headcount.

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