As corporations continue to grapple with constrained budgets, general
counsel are improving the cost efficiency of the legal function, both
through how they manage internally and how they partner with their law
firms and legal service providers. ACC set out to identify and highlight
those who are effectively driving value by cutting spending, improving
predictability and achieving better legal outcomes.
Companies of all shapes and sizes, and from around the world, answered our call and submitted
83 nominations, often with robust data sets in support. Those nominations were rigorously
evaluated by a panel of judges: Lani Quarmby, associate general counsel and senior vice
president, Bank of America; Chris Fowler, general counsel, UK Commercial Legal Services, BT plc;
and Jonathan L. Block, former general counsel, Hot Topic, Inc.
One common theme among this year’s ACC Value Champions was a strategic approach to
sourcing and staffing of legal matters. Whether you call them lanes, or chunks, these work
divisions and assignments evidence a realization that one size of legal service does not fit all, and
decisions about the resources being used—internally and externally—must be made with value in
mind. The catchphrase is “disaggregation”: thinking about each kind of work and what resources
might be deployed to match effort to value.
CATERPILLAR hit the trifecta of value engineering: decreased spending, increased predictability
and improved outcomes, including employee and client satisfaction—likely a harbinger of the near
future for many companies. Working with partners BakerHostetler, Pangea3 US and Heyl Royster,
Caterpillar used “lane strategies” to allocate work to the right type of legal resource—one with
the lowest level of expertise and cost required to accomplish the task, whether in-house attorney,
LPO, intern or outside counsel—and to calibrate spending based on the value and complexity of
the work. The team developed tools to streamline and optimize the process.
The law department at CSA GROUP, a global engineering professional services firm
headquartered in Canada, examined the enterprise strategic plan to identify which legal services
best supported corporate goals and honed resource allocations to enhance alignment. Using a
“heat map,” the legal department focused its staff on high-value, cross-functional projects and
outsourced and streamlined routine work, resulting in cost savings of 30 to 50 percent for certain
categories of work. As a result, the department is consulted at earlier stages, permitting more
effective and proactive legal solutions.
To overcome the challenge of too few resources during a time of company expansion,
ZS ASSOCIATES’ small legal department had to be smart. They took a multifaceted approach
using several value levers, pairing specialized in-house counsel with offshore attorneys and using
value-based fee arrangements with legal process outsourcers to predict expenses, even when
workloads grew. The result? Doing more with less while increasing quality and results.
MSA SAFETY INCORPORATED sought lower litigation settlement costs, which it achieved
through strong outside counsel partnerships to augment a small department. With Reed Smith
serving as national coordinating counsel, and a phased approach, MSA’s lawyers challenged their