Controlling Legal Spend in a Corporate World

With the financial responsibilities and complexities of running a successful in-house counsel team becoming increasingly demanding, savvy in-house counsel and GCs need to run their legal teams like a well-oiled (and pretty frugal) business machine. What solutions and systems can be put in place to control costs, reduce spending and drive collaboration?

In-house counsel face unique business pressures and deal regularly with law firms and a range of other stakeholders. Ongoing market turbulence and a highly regulated business environment has led to a cutthroat atmosphere and decreased external expenditure for in-house teams.

According to the Australian Financial Review, a survey conducted by the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association (ACLA) and its New Zealand counterpart, CLANZ, revealed that the average annual external spend dropped 20 per cent, from $2.2 million to 1.8 million over a three-year period.

More than ever, legal teams require a razor-sharp view of the legal landscape so they can track money, time and productivity; manage risk; and identify, predict and minimise problems in advance.

Solutions and systems

So how do we solve this problem? We can turn to cutting-edge technology designed to help counsel do their job better, cheaper and faster. Having access to an efficient matter management, billing and analytics solution is a great way to manage your workload and do more with less.

New and fancy software solutions are popping up everywhere, so it can be hard to know which solution will work best for your team. The best solutions allow your legal team to automate and streamline work processes and work flexibly at the same time as being able to check and monitor workflow, demonstrate savings and stay on top of contractual obligations.

A system that provides for seamless communication with third parties and advisors on one platform or system will also make life easier for in-house counsel and company legal departments. In-house counsel should also be able to evaluate and compare the performance of outside counsel to determine which providers are delivering the highest level of service and the best results. Find a solution that offers this feature where internal team members can evaluate particular lawyers and ensure they’re assigning future work to the best and brightest.

Look out for some of these features in the software solution or system you try:

  • Efficient legal invoicing processes, including the ability to enforce billing guidelines, approve timekeeper rates and decrease overall external legal spend.
  • Streamlined matter creation processes.
  • Project management and workflow tools.
  • Sharing and editing capabilities for documents and files.
  • Analytics and reports.
  • Communication tools.

Other options to reduce your overall spend are to bring more work in-house, try innovative and alternative fee arrangements and consider legal process outsourcers and other document automation services that can come at a fraction of the cost of using traditional law firms.

The key is to get creative and use technology to create efficiencies in your team – the company and its bottom line will thank you for it!

Jacqueline Jubb is a Sydney-based lawyer, freelance writer, copywriter and entrepreneur. Jacqueline’s legal career has allowed her to enjoy diverse roles such as In-House Legal Adviser for the Law Society of London and Wales, criminal prosecutor at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Sydney and corporate litigator in Newcastle.

In 2015, Jacqueline launched her copywriting consultancy, Florence in Heels, to help transport brands from ‘blah’ to ‘beautiful’. Jacqueline now writes for a range of online and print publications such as Mamamia and White Magazine as well as a host of corporate clients including Owners Collective, LinkedIn, Thomson Reuters and Travel Your Way.

You can connect with Jacqueline at or on Instagram @florenceinheels.


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