Outside Counsel Relationships
Outside Counsel Relationships

5 Ways To Reduce Legal Spend And Maintain Relationships With Outside Counsel

When it comes to the legal department, the subject of cutting costs can be a tricky one. How can an enterprise reduce legal spend without compromising on work quality? Especially when it comes to outside counsel?

This is especially a concern with them as they may not have the same credibility as your in-house team. Outside counsel’s non-compliance with billing guidelines is an issue that can cause your company to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars more than what they should.

With the right tools and strategies, however, you can streamline the legal management process, maximize efficiency, and reduce your overall legal spend.

How to reduce legal spend

When times are tough for your business, you need to start looking at expenditures and how you can cut unnecessary expenses. Here are a few ways to reduce legal spend:

Review existing invoices

You might be surprised by how you’re being billed; many administrative tasks (like searching for an email) can end up on your invoice. By reviewing your invoices, you may be able to catch unethical billing or unnecessary waste. Legal technology such as Acuity ELM’s e-billing software can make the invoice review process much easier. Predictive analytics monitors your history and recognizes spikes and irregularities in budgets, performance, invoices, and more. By tracking any fluctuations in your processes, you can identify and resolve issues more efficiently – and prevent them from happening again.

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Improve clarity

There should be an understanding among senior leadership and your outside counsel on what should be included in the legal budget. The legal team should be transparent with how they are billing, and you need to be clear on your expectations.

Drafting comprehensive billing guidelines is one way to ensure compliance. In these guidelines, outline what you will and will not pay for as well as how you want cases to be handled. For example, you can include in the guidelines that you won’t pay for research time or for intern training. You can also specify the number of people working a case or specific event.

Turn inward

Why pay a premium on work that can be performed more efficiently by your in-house team? When it comes to processes that require in-depth knowledge of your business, your corporate legal team is best suited for that work. However, your outside counsel can take on cases requiring specialized expertise. Use your ELM platform to determine the best use of your resources.

Simplify processes

When working with outside counsel, you should have a system in place for sharing information and documents. Instead of being billed by the hour for time spent having to sift through multiple emails, ask counsel to put together a matter summary and upload it into your matter management system. Enable electronic document management for easy access to important documents.

If your outside counsel is overbilling, you could potentially lose thousands of dollars each year on minuscule tasks! Having a comprehensive plan reduces costs for both your in-house team (who no longer have to worry about document management) and your outside counsel.

Automate the billing process

As previously mentioned, technology can be a great help when it comes to managing legal spend. Enterprise legal management (ELM) technology has the ability to transform your relationship with your outside counsel. Skip the awkward phone calls to resolve a billing dispute; forget sifting through stacks of paperwork to manage billing.

Gain control of the invoice process by having a technological solution to:

    • Review your invoice in fine detail to check for errors and trouble spots.
    • Auto-approve invoices that don’t violate numerous guidelines.
    • Ensure compliance of timely invoice submission.
    • Receive alerts of issues in invoices.

Shake off the weight of outmoded processes

Manual processes are a dead weight that drags down efficiency, productivity, client service, and the quality of your relationships with outside counsel and other legal service providers.   Automating key Legal Operations processes like billing and invoice review will deliver better results for everyone all around, and let the legal department show the C-suite that it’s raised its game by evolving to meet the new realities confronting everyone in business these days.

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