11 September 2023

Effective Outside Counsel Management: Insights from the Lawcadia-ACC webinar

Author: Sacha Kirk Insights Resources

On Wednesday, August 28th, Lawcadia, in partnership with the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), hosted an illuminating webinar focusing on effective outside counsel management for in-house teams.

The panel consisted of Aron Rattew, General Counsel at Challenger Limited; Jemima Harris, Acting General Counsel at Megaport; and Matthew Morosin, Director at Deloitte’s Legal Management Consulting and Legal Managed Services. Moderated by Sacha Kirk, Co-Founder and CMO at Lawcadia, the discussion was rich in insights, and practical advice flowed freely.

Here are some key takeaways:

The importance of the topic

Sacha kicked off the session by introducing the significance of outside counsel management and how Lawcadia’s platform aims to facilitate this critical aspect of legal operations. Lawcadia provides an end-to-end legal operations platform designed to help in-house teams manage their law firms and control external spend.

The panellists emphasised that effective outside counsel management is critical to service delivery for in-house teams as managing relationships with external counsel is an extension of in-house resources. Further, structured, transparent engagements with outside counsel can benefit not only the in-house team but also strengthen the overall relationship between the parties involved.

Aligning values and drivers – spotting misalignment

Sacha posed an essential question: How can you tell if your external legal team isn’t aligned with your business objectives, and what can be done to correct this?

One of the panellists shared an example of a law firm providing advice that was legally sound but practically cumbersome. It was outlined that communication is the key to overcoming or avoiding such situations.

The panel discussed two different strategies to manage expectations: using a “rules of engagement” document that clearly states what the in-house team expects from its external partners or instituting a formal legal panel with documented agreements that relate to the alignment of business objectives and legal services.

It was observed that the in-house legal team often gets value for money, but other times, the cost outweighs the perceived benefit. This discontentment is usually a sign that something is not right and could be improved.

Lessons learned

    • Communication is key: open, honest communication is critical for maintaining effective relationships with external legal teams.
    • Formalise expectations: Whether through a ‘Rules of Engagement’ document or a legal panel, having a formalised set of expectations can clarify what each party hopes to get from the relationship.
    • Self-reflection: In-house teams also need to look inward and question if they are clear enough in their instructions and expectations from the external law firms.
    • Gut feeling matters: that instinctual response to an invoice could indicate the health of your relationship with your external counsel.
    • Transparency: Transparency in engagements can yield incredible benefits and strengthen relationships between parties.

Overall, the webinar delivered actionable insights for in-house legal teams. It’s clear that effective outside counsel management isn’t just about cutting costs or meeting deadlines; it’s about building sustainable, mutually beneficial relationships based on open communication and aligned objectives.

Note: Post-webinar, attendees were offered a copy of the recording and a link to Lawcadia’s Best Practice Guide, a resource sure to be indispensable for anyone looking to improve their outside counsel management strategies. Access a copy of the Best Practice Guide here.

If you’d like to access a recording of the webinar, please email us.

This article was originally published on our sister site lawcadia.com.

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