In today’s challenging economic times, the legal profession faces a paradigm shift that is changing the way in-house law departments operate, and how law schools and law students prepare to enter the workforce. Notably, corporations and their general counsel are increasingly accountable for legal department spending. As a result, they are looking to leverage technology to increase productivity and to adopt creative solutions to lower legal costs.
To increase efficiency and productivity, technology can be used effectively in the corporate legal department to standardize and support business processes, manage confidential information, increase constituent communication, and support data management. In-house counsel can learn from what others have done to resolve productivity challenges by leveraging technologies that include cloud-based solutions, e-discovery tools, software encryption, litigation and matter management systems, and document assembly tools.
For years in-house legal departments relied on outside counsel to meet specialized legal needs. With the dramatic increase in outside counsel fees (some say hourly rates have increased by more than 50% in the past 15 years) and the rising pressure to cut costs, many are considering new strategies to keep legal budgets lean. Strategies utilized include: (1) direct management of outsourcing and reliance on non-traditional entities for basic legal processes (i.e., electronic discovery); (2) adoption of performance metrics to drive greater efficiencies and increase productivity; and, (3) employment of in-house attorneys with an eye towards better managing legal needs. At this discussion, we will evaluate all three-and other-effective strategies for managing costs.
Evaluating Cost-Cutting Models
- Brad Bernthal — Moderator
Associate Professor, University of Colorado Law School
- Richard Baer
Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Liberty Media
Implications for Legal Education
- Phil Weiser
Hatfield Professor of Law, University of Colorado Law School