In-house teams rely on technology to manage outside counsel relationships
Many in-house attorneys have found that this is the year they recreate their role. They embraced opportunities to become strategic business advisors, they cut out unnecessary busy work, and they reinvented their relationships with outside counsel.
A more strategic role for in-house attorneys
General counsel (GC) are slower to give the juicy projects to outside counsel. They know their teams are best positioned to respond to the business, so outsourcing strategic work isn’t necessarily the best option. As a result, some of the “business as usual” legal work of their departments — including many transactions and litigation matters — had to be put on hold. This contributed to the drop in demand for law firms.
“We used to take every new problem or question to outside counsel to ask for guidance,” one general counsel told us. “We found that drove up our law firm costs, of course. It was also not a great message to send to the team or the business about what we are capable of. We have the same legal training and experience as our outside counsel — many of us are even alums of those same firms. And we have sophisticated knowledge of the business.”
Keeping more work in-house doesn’t mean that legal teams are able to staff up commensurately. Most GC are looking at technology solutions that can help their teams with their reinvention.
Tools to help keep more legal work in house
In-house legal leaders need the time and tools to assess new matters and advise the business on how to proceed. From there, they can bring in outside counsel to execute. “We need information to instruct outside counsel, rather than always asking for guidance,” one leader said. Having more information and insight helps general counsel better direct outside counsel and manage costs.
Of course, large law firms have access to expertise in many different areas of law and an army of associates to chase down answers that aren’t readily available. But technology and tools can help in-house counsel equal that expertise to understand an issue or trend quickly and decide an appropriate course of action.
For instance, Dynamic Tool Set — the new premium add-on to top-selling legal know how tool, Practical Law from Thomson Reuters — provides actionable data on market practices that can help attorneys decide how to approach a matter and how hard to negotiate specific points in an agreement. These tools are particularly helpful for in-house counsel who are now able to develop a more informed position on matters before deciding whether to bring in outside counsel.
The Practical Law Dynamic Tool Set helps in-house counsel take a more strategic approach to business problems, deciding which cases to give to outside counsel and which to keep; provides clearer guidance on legal matters they decide to outsource; and helps lawyers stay involved as those outsourced matters progress.
Researching a new or unfamiliar topic
The Knowledge Map tool helps users visually explore topics and resources in Practical Law’s collection. It provides a complete picture of a matter so users can identify issues that could have otherwise been missed. And, the AI-powered Dynamic Search feature helps in-house attorneys find practical answers to complicated questions so they can search know-how content using natural language queries.
Researching laws across states and countries
The Quick Compare creates custom charts that answer key questions across states so users can quickly identify local laws and compare data points that matter most.
Finding and analyzing market trends
With What’s Market Analytics, in-house counsel can instantly create data-driven insights and visualizations to analyze and share market trends and deal terms in a fraction of the time. This feature is especially important as users aim to quickly and effectively communicate options to business partners.
Planning, managing, and executing a legal matter
Matter Maps provide an overview of the core phases and tasks in a matter with links to key resources. Now they’re interactive, so users can customize the map to their individual needs. Having a common, proven approach to key matter types helps in-house counsel take on more tasks that are outside their comfort zone. It also helps create clear expectations as they manage outside counsel’s work.
The dynamic between in-house counsel and law firms has been shifting for over a decade, as the buy-side finds new ways to upset the status quo and ensure their outsourced legal providers are delivering real value for the money. Continued development of tools and the democratization of data helps ensure that lean in-house teams can provide real legal wisdom to their businesses. They can lead the legal work with knowledge of the business and a grounding in the legal issues without overly relying on outside counsel.
The new Practical Law Dynamic Tool Set helps you gain deeper insights, get better answers faster, and utilize data and information through charts and visualizations. Find out how.