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4 Takeaways from the #LMA15 Panel of GC [LMA Recap]

4 Takeaways from the LMA15 Panel of GCs-main

A 3-person panel of GCs made a noticeable impact on attendees at the 2015 LMA Conference.  In many ways it proved to be a focus group of sorts for the very people charged with helping law firms win new business, which originates with the corporate legal department.

If we were to summarize what we heard from a panel in a 140 characters, it would boil down to four key points, which we’ve expanded on here:

1. Corporate legal is taking more work in-house.  

Joe Otterstetter, managing counsel at the 3M company noted during the panel that in 2012, roughly two-thirds of the company’s legal spend was on outside counsel (and mostly for litigation).  Today, that split is about half and half.  Indeed, a survey LexisNexis published late last year found that 54% of corporate legal departments plan to bring more work in-house.

2.  GCs are consolidating law firm panels.

The panelists seemed to unanimously agree that the widely covered trend of law firm panel consolidation is quite valid.  Similarly, the CounselLink team has analyzed some $17 billion in legal invoices and found 54% of corporate legal use 10 or fewer firms for 80% of legal work.

3.  Efficiency and the metrics to prove it matter.  

The conundrum GCs face is straight forward:  budgets are flat, they are expected to remain flat and yet they still have to reduce risk for their organizations.  As a result efficiency and metrics matter at least as much as relationships.   As D. Casey Flaherty recently explained, metrics strengthen inside and outside counsel relationships.

4.  GCs are willing to pay for value.

There’s comfort in the safety of hourly billing,” noted one panelist as an obstacle to progress in value. The challenge is the hourly billing model inherently incentivizes activities not outcomes – and is a beacon for scrutiny amid flat corporate legal budgets. Some advocated rebranding the “alternative fee arrangement” to “value based billing” in an effort to quell discount chatter.  The net sum of legal services rests on value versus cost.

4 Takeaways from the LMA15 Panel of GCs-small

Bits and Bytes from a Panel of GCs

Throughout the session, ACC moderator, Catherine Jackson Moynihan sprinkled in questions that elicited interesting nuggets of information.  Those included the following:

* * *

Did you attend the session?  What points have we missed but should be added here?  Please feel free to sound off in the comments.

Related recaps of the session from other blogs:

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
LMA Recap: Changing the Legal Industry Perception of Sales

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About Frank Strong

Frank Strong
Frank Strong is the communications director for the LexisNexis software division located on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. In this capacity, he leads communications efforts in support of software products for law practice and law department management and also litigation tools – across large law, small law and corporate counsel segments. With more than 15 years of experience in the high-tech sector, Strong previously served as director of public relations for Vocus, which developed marketing, PR and media monitoring software. He has held multiple roles both in-house with corporations, ranging from startups to global organizations, and has also endured the rigors of billable hours, having completed gigs at PR firms including the top 10 global firm Hill & Knowlton. A veteran of two year-long deployments, Strong has concurrently served in uniform in reserve components of the military for more than 20 years, initially as an enlisted Marine and later as an infantry officer in the Army National Guard. Strong holds a BA in Film and TV production from Worcester State University, an M.A. in Public Communication from American University, and an M.B.A. from Marymount University. He is a PADI-certified Master Scuba Diver and holds a USPA "B" skydiving license.
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