APPLYING VALUE LEVERS
GC Ellen Pekilis and her staff used the ACC resource, “Law Department Strategy: Balancing Immediate
Cost Savings with Sustainable Results,” as its roadmap. A detailed line-by-line review of the CSA Group
strategic plan helped them to identify the legal work necessary to enable each item in the plan; these tasks
were then grouped by theme and skill requirements. Using the ACC Value Matrix, the team identified
the highest-value tasks for focus by in-house counsel; those in the middle range that were best handled by
in-house counsel managing external resources; and those of low value, that required less hands-on legal
time. Tools for self-service, such as templates and guidance tip sheets, were developed for those low-value
tasks, and CSA Group staff were trained to use them.
Pekilis attacked value-based fees by negotiating a flat-fee arrangement for commercial and employment
work for German operations with a local German firm. She also selected a third-party vendor of
CSA Group’s legal department now focuses on such challenging and complex work as compliance,
acquisitions and enterprise risk management. Its members are viewed internally as trusted advisors in
achieving corporate goals, rather than tactical legal service providers, and are routinely included on cross-functional teams working on strategic projects.
• Fees for commercial and employment work in Germany reduced by 30 to 50 percent.
• Costs for responding to code-of-conduct inquiries reduced by 90 percent.
• Increased predictability of fees for immigration services.
China State Construction Engineering Corporation
A small legal department of only five professionals oversees the
legal issues of China State Construction Engineering Corporation
(CSCEC), the largest real estate and construction company in
the world. Legal department members use technology to share
information and knowledge with clients in the business units, leading
to better legal outcomes and enhanced internal reputation for the
legal department. CSCEC also deployed value-based fee arrangements
linked to outcomes — quite the motivator for external legal counsel.
In 2012, China State Construction Engineering Corporation, which employs nearly five thousand people
in the Middle East, began its quest for lower costs and improved value in its in-house legal department.
Recognizing that the days of expansive legal teams are over, leadership turned to technology and
innovation to extend reach and bandwidth; and reengineered fee arrangements with outside counsel.