For legal offices, cutting costs is always a goal and something they talk about. It’s seen as a cost centre, like accounting, HR, or marketing, and is often the first thing that gets cut when things need to be trimmed back.
Of course, what makes cutting expenses tough is achieving the goal without reducing quality and productivity. While there are no magic techniques to make it happen, there are various tools and strategies available to help support the endeavour, as well as review expenditures at the end of each period and at budgeting time. After all, the other side of trying to cut costs is showing that spending has been carefully thought out, decided to be necessary, and carefully allocated and tracked.
Once you’ve hired an outside lawyer, your main worry is how to keep legal costs low while keeping quality high. Stepping up your legal process management (LPM) from start to finish is one way to get the most out of your outside counsel relationship.
Who is an Outside Counsel?
When a business needs legal help, it hires an outside counsel, a lawyer or a law firm that isn’t full-time employed by the business. Instead, the business hires outside counsel to provide specific legal advice or representation as needed.
Outside counsel can also:
- Offer expertise and insights pertaining to industry best practices.
- Protect sensitive information by making sure the right safeguards are in place.
- Lead or help with negotiations with third parties, using their knowledge and the fact that they may not have a personal stake in the outcome to help you make a better choice.
- Look for possible risks and give advice on how to reduce them.
There are several strategies for effectively onboarding external legal counsel, intending to optimize operational efficiency, mitigating risk, and minimizing redundant efforts.
Look over current bills
Many administrative operations (such as searching for an email) can appear on the invoice, which may surprise you. Through a thorough examination of invoices, it is possible to identify instances of unethical billing practices or instances of wasteful expenditure. Legal technology like Acuity ELM’s e-billing software can make it much easier to look over bills. Predictive analytics looks at your past data and finds outliers and spikes in budgets, performance, bills, and more. By recording any changes in the processes, the issues can be discovered and handled more quickly, preventing them from recurring.
There should be a way to share information and papers when working with outside counsel. Have your lawyer put together an outline of the case and upload it to your matter management system rather than charging you by the hour for the time it takes to sort through numerous emails. Electronic document handling will make it easy to get to important files. If the outside lawyer is charging too much, you could lose thousands of dollars every year on small jobs. A thorough plan saves money for both your in-house team (because they don’t have to worry about managing documents) and your outside lawyers.
There should be agreement among the top leaders and your outside lawyer about what should be in the legal budget. The lawyers should be clear about how they’re charging you, and you should be clear on what you expect. One way to ensure obedience is to write detailed billing rules. This document aims to delineate the parameters of financial remuneration, specifying both eligible and ineligible expenses while also elucidating the preferred approach for managing instances. For example, It can be stated in the guidelines that you will not pay for research time or intern training. You can also indicate the personnel assigned to a case or event.
Using legal technology to stay in control of outside counsel spending
Setting and sticking to a monthly budget, as well as budgets for each job, is one of the best ways to keep spending in check. Software for Legal Spend Management can make this job easier and more useful by letting you enter more detailed data and do more complicated data analysis without needing an excessive amount of time and resources to do so. This kind of software can also help to keep an eye on costs and save money by instantly flagging any billing that doesn’t follow the rules. This is very important for fixed fee agreements; ensure that you are still getting the right staff care and that your matters aren’t just being passed off to junior associates because of the fixed fee.
Take charge of the billing process by having a tech-based way to:
- Look over bills very carefully to find mistakes and trouble spots.
- Have bills automatically approved, as long as they don’t break many rules.
- Make sure that invoices are sent on time.
- Get alerts when there are problems with bills.
Alternative fee arrangements
The billable hour is how most businesses charge, but there are other ways to set fees (AFA). AFA comes in many forms, such as retainers, blended rates, contingency, mixed hourly plus reward, volume discounts, rate caps, and more. A flat fee or defined fee is the best alternative because you know exactly how much it will cost. Also, it’s hard to get because law firms are (rightly) scared of messing up and losing money on your case. Everyone needs to work together for it to work. Be ready to agree on basic ideas and be open to changing your mind if those ideas turn out to be wrong. A cap on the matter as a whole or a cap by phase are two alternatives. This allows outside counsel some leeway.
Managing legal fees with outside lawyers is an important part of an organization’s budget. Businesses can greatly reduce their legal costs by clarifying work scopes, accepting alternative fee arrangements, using in-house skills, carefully checking bills, and building long-term relationships with legal providers. Regular and open contact with outside counsel not only helps you stay within your budget but it also makes the relationship more productive and cost-effective.
In today’s fast-paced business environment, optimizing costs is a paramount consideration. When seeking external legal counsel, making informed choices can significantly impact your budget. However, there’s no need to worry about cost considerations when entrusting your legal work to the specialized attorneys at LegaMart.
At LegaMart, we take pride in providing comprehensive legal assistance with absolute transparency. Our commitment to clarity means you won’t encounter any hidden charges. With us, what you see is precisely what you invest, starting from affordable prices.
Whether you are an in-house legal counsel seeking exceptional legal talent or a small business owner seeking invaluable legal support for your enterprise, LegaMart has the tailored solutions you require. Our team of seasoned professionals is well-equipped to address your unique legal needs.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to LegaMart today and experience the difference in legal services. We are here to serve you with unparalleled expertise and unwavering dedication to your success.