With the ever-tightening net of cost reduction threatening to tangle up in-house legal teams, the ACC panel session on using legal operations professionals share strategies and tactics to improve the value of legal services was unsurprisingly well attended.

The variety of panellists covered exceptionally large legal teams, like AIG, to smaller teams like Yazaki North America. Each of the operations divisions were going through different stages of their journeys, all with the ultimate desire to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of their legal processes.

A common them throughout the session was the need to demonstrate the impact of change quickly and communicate it effectively. Getting buy in for change can be achieved by succeeding in “low-hanging fruit” projects. These are areas in which you can succeed in a smaller amount of time, but that will have a demonstrable impact. Regular success allows operations teams to keep their momentum going, as well as garnering savings that can be reapplied to hiring needed people or investing in new technology. By constantly solving the smaller problems, it allows you to gain the backing and resource to start to solve the biggest challenges.

However, as part of these changes, people have to come centrally; people, process, technology was the mantra for sustainable change. Without the investment in people first, the rest is useless. Converting the legal data from the other two factors into business intelligence that is actionable is the next key step. Communication of what the operations team has achieved needs to resonate with the business so that you can continue to achieve results.

AIG has perhaps achieved the final stages of significant operational change, approaching the “Nirvana” of revenue generation. Aaron Katzel, head of their global legal operations center, announced that they are planning to launch their own business, providing efficiency services and operational management to external companies. This will utilize the information and expertise that they have gained over the last few years within their Legal Operations Center, which has already saved them over $300 million internally. What a step for businesses when they can start to pitch their in-house operational expertise externally.


Dominic Williams