Winning over your colleagues in the legal department

In-house lawyers are often not fans of Procurement and procurement processes, at least from the start. Many of them don’t think like business people, savings often don’t matter to them as much as they typically matter to you, and relationships to outside counsel are of utmost importance for them. Former general counsel Leah Cooper of Leah Cooper Consulting recommends ways for Procurement to win in-house lawyers over and drive improvements:

Build the relationship: If possible, sit with your colleagues in Legal and/or schedule regular meetings. Ask questions, understand their issues, learn lawyer-speak and avoid Procurement lingo. Relate and engage. Come with different options or scenarios. Lawyers are trained to argue and find fault. By showing them different scenarios they can reason about the most fitting solution and are hence more likely to embrace it. Also come to an agreement as to what is a “win”.

Be useful: In RFPs, show your skills and usefulness and do the “leg work” for the legal team. Learn what is important to them and research alternatives. Show that you are aware of their concerns and know what keeps them up at night. Use this in your approach when making suggestions for different processes, analyses or firm choices.

What else you should do:

Understand what keeps your colleagues in the legal department up at night and connect with your peers in other companies. See what path they have taken, learn from their successes and mistakes, and adopt legal procurement best practices.

Attend the next legal procurement conference in London on 9 May. Click here for the programme!

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Legal Procurement’s influence keeps growing!

Legal Procurement’s influence is quickly becoming ubiquitous. Legal services used to be largely exempt from the cost scrutiny other business units and functions have been facing for years. But no longer. Many companies, particularly those with significant legal spend and in regulated industries, involve Procurement when selecting outside counsel and ancillary legal services. The objective is to cut costs, ensure quality, and drive efficiency. And it is working.

This trend is not completely appreciated in the industry. It is rarely love at first sight, when the CEO or CFO introduces Procurement to the legal department to assist with selecting law firms and managing “supplier” relationships. But Procurement’s expertise in getting the best value for the company, managing the sourcing process, and finding the right suppliers for the right price at the right time, makes its involvement a compelling solution for top management.

The recent financial crisis and slow recovery acted as a catalyst and sped up the process for the adoption of Legal Procurement among many Fortune 500 companies and their international equivalents. Publicity about billing practices, big ticket spending, increased transparency, and profit pressure is at the root of this seismic shift.

The industry organization, Buying Legal Council, was formed in 2014 to support and educate Legal Procurement professionals and other buyers of legal services. It provides education and networking to its members and counts many Fortune 500 companies, multinationals, and government agencies among its members.

To better understand Legal Procurement practices and detect trends, the Buying Legal Council conducted a survey in January 2016 among Legal Procurement and Legal Operations professionals, in which 92 submitted their answers. This research represents the view of Legal Procurement and Legal Operations. In order to respond, the organizations had to have such a corporate function. Generally, Legal Procurement as a profession is still in its early days and while more common, is still not yet represented in every industry sector and/or region. We believe that the buying of legal services is still changing and likely to become more closely managed rather than less.

Please note that all findings should be seen as indicative, showing trends rather than absolute, representative data due to the sample size in a (still) unknown universe of Legal Procurement professionals, the effects of random sampling, and different mixes of survey participants in the different surveys.

Members and Friends of the Buying Legal Council access the White Paper on the “Members-only” (buyers of legal services) and “Friends-only” (sellers of legal services) part of the website.

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Little is left untouched by Legal Procurement

Legal Procurement’s influence is quickly becoming ubiquitous. In many companies, it has become common and ordinary practice to involve Procurement when selecting outside counsel.

But just how common? And what does Procurement do? To find answers, the legal procurement trade organization Buying Legal Council launched its 2016 Legal Procurement Survey. We are still analyzing, but here is a sneak preview:

When we asked the question “In your organization, what level of legal services purchases does procurement influence?” The vast majority, 86%, answered they influence purchasing commoditized, routine legal services, such as debt collection, minor litigation, and non-complex contracts. But just under half of survey respondents, 45%, influence the purchase of high-end complex/high-value legal services, such as high-stakes litigation. And 64% influence “bread and butter” legal services, those between high-end and commodities. (More than one answer to this question was possible.)

In short: few legal services today are left untouched by legal procurement. The less complicated the service, the more numerous the competitors, and the more frequently it is bought, the more likely it is that procurement will be involved in selecting the firms. It’s an exciting time to be a legal procurement expert and it’s a frightening time for law firms long insulated from competitive bids!

To learn more about Legal Procurement, join us March 15 for the 2016 Legal Procurement Conference in New York:


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