own assumptions about value and risk as they drove clear strategy objectives throughout their
30-state local counsel network. In the highest-risk jurisdictions, the company has saved millions
of dollars in defense expenses.
MSA’s thoughtful, considered approach to risk is an exemplar of another cultural change
evidenced by this year’s ACC Value Champions. Whereas in-house lawyers may have inherited
a legacy as risk avoiders, their current business savvy equips them to appreciate the tradeoffs
for accepting some risk. Further, they are leveraging change management approaches to drive
cultural evolution and to achieve shared responsibility for risk with internal clients, thereby saving
significant time and expense on lower-risk categories of legal work.
When mortgage litigation against JP MORGAN CHASE’S consumer banking division increased
ninefold, the department maximized internal resources to triage cases based on risk and limit
spending. By developing the Early Dispute Resolution Program, they redirected a large portion of the
disputes to the in-house team, identified high-risk cases and worked with their business partners to
modify loan terms. The program resolved 1,800 cases and saved $12.6 million in outside legal fees.
MICROSOFT AND PERKINS COIE brought predictability to one of the most unpredictable areas
of legal work, mergers and acquisitions, through process improvement. The initiative, “Deal
360,” guides the lawyers in analyzing the complexity of each M&A transaction, allowing outside
counsel partner Perkins Coie to prepare custom budget and staffing plans. The team regrouped
around classic project management principles, comparing budgets to the deal’s actual worth to
the company, and making changes to the work plan as a result. Microsoft has increased budget
accuracy by an impressive 30 percentage points.
At HUNTINGTON INGALLS INDUSTRIES, the legal department leveraged the shipbuilding
industry’s culture of careful planning and pride in the work to design a new compliance program
that is owned by the business. Overarching principles and detailed work plans place control—and
rewards—in the hands of employees, with oversight by a new chief compliance officer. Results
included a $1.4 million decline in outside counsel spending on compliance.
Clients who accept shared responsibility and move willingly into a
partnership model with their in-house legal departments are treated to
greater transparency, more self-service opportunities, a heightened focus on
customer service and, often, increased efficiency and shorter cycle time.
Lawyers at insurance giant ACE GROUP sought to move more work in-house and signaled
their new partnership with internal clients right out of the gate, adopting a new “Legal Service
Coordinator” title and aligning closely with the needs of the business. This new model allows
for greater collaboration among lawyers, the development of proficiency across portfolios and
workload balancing. It also resulted in savings of 50 percent per service hour.
Brazilian aircraft manufacturer EMBRAER applied “lean” to legal. After setting client service
performance indicators, the law department empowered the business to complete contracts
through a web platform, resulting in 30 percent faster completion time. The company also
undertakes root cause analysis for all unfavorable litigation decisions, looking for room for