For in-house counsel, the last year has been either feast or famine. While some industries have thrived during the pandemic, many have not. Approximately 66% of CLOs experienced budget cuts this year in the wake of COVID-19, and many are also expecting hiring freezes, lay-offs and additional pressure to do more with less.
As in-house teams are grappling with meeting these demands in the short-term as part of a “survival mode” of sorts, this event is likely to shape the future of how in-house teams operate for decades to come.
So, how can in-house teams, experiencing the pinch of larger workloads, smaller budgets and increased scrutiny leverage this point in time as an opportunity? Let’s explore a few of the ways that today’s legal departments can make strategic changes this year that improve efficiency, facilitate cost savings and improve competitiveness.
#1: Understand your outside counsel costs, firm to firm.
Through a deep understanding of your legal spend performance and how funds are allocated, you can achieve accurate estimates of legal spend across different matter types and understand which firms can help you get the most from your budget. In-house teams can then decide how, when and to which firms to allocate certain types of legal work, based on the performance and cost-effectiveness.
#2: Prioritize diversity and inclusion.
Not only are efforts to accelerate diversity and inclusion the right thing to do, challenging times are best met by multiple perspectives that can generate the most creative solutions. By continuing to prioritize efforts to promote diversity and inclusion within legal teams, in-house teams can influence the future composition of in-house and outside counsel teams to ensure representation.
#3: Invest in technology that is going to help you win the long game.
If nothing else, the requirement to work from home during the pandemic emphasized the need for strategic technology investments. However, technology can do more than provide virtual access. The legal departments that will win in the post-pandemic era will have reframed their approach to technology and look to leverage solutions that not only provide business continuity, but will allow the department to streamline costs and efficiency, while achieving better results. In this sense, technology should be viewed not only as a solution to short-term problems, but as a strategic investment to enable future growth.
As we continue to respond to the demands of this unusual time, there is an opportunity not only to rise to the challenge, but to actively create a new normal that will enable in-house legal departments to thrive well into the future.
How are you addressing today’s needs in order to position your in-house team for success? Join the conversation on our social media pages.