Next, MSA created a virtual law firm, made up of outside firms with whom the company had worked
successfully in the past. These external firms were assigned to defend the most complex cases based on
expertise rather than geography, leading to greater efficiencies; knowledge sharing among the member
firms ensures consistency and eliminates redundancy.
Outside counsel, inside counsel and MSA’s internal continuous improvement specialists collaborated
to map the value streams of MSA’s current settlement process and developed an ideal future state. This
exercise permitted the legal team to identify and eliminate waste and increase retention of key settlement
documentation. And it was not a high-tech process — it involved sticky notes on walls.
A standardized weekly reporting process for defense activity was instituted, which aids in early
identification of emerging risks and cost drivers. Local counsel now submit reports via a standard
template on a set day each week. The data is processed in real time into a template every Monday.
MSA and Reed Smith jointly develop a targeted annual budget, each year aiming for greater savings than
the last based on improved efficiencies. For every firm and vendor representing MSA, they monitor work
levels weekly and track the budget bi-monthly against pre-established targets.
• Defense expenses reduced 20 percent over previous year.
• Total settlement expense reduced by millions of dollars.
United Retirement Plan Consultants + Porter Wright
Having leveraged technology to bring a dispersed team together
as a high-functioning legal department, United Retirement Plan
Consultants began its value journey. Seeking greater budget
predictability as well as expertise in two major areas of work,
securities and real estate, the eight-person team retained trusted
outside counsel to evaluate value-based fees, share risk and create a
true partnership. Their success hinged partially on the creation of
simple but effective tools.
In 2009, the legal department at United Retirement Plan Consultants consisted of eight attorneys, no two
of whom were located in the same office. Since then, the creation of bi-monthly team calls, a blog and a
SharePoint site have improved communication and collaboration, and created a sense of teamwork among
United Retirement began its value journey by exploring value-based fee arrangements with its longtime
counsel, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP. The initial agreement was for a monthly adjustable retainer
for routine securities work; in addition, United Retirement pays a fixed amount on a monthly basis for
“routine securities matters.” The law firm and the in-house department collaboratively defined what work
qualifies as “routine securities work.”