Few would argue that costs are a huge barrier to accessing external legal support. However, those with budgets point to a more practical obstacle, namely the ‘time cost’ of engagement.
Many In-House counsel share the common challenge of it simply taking too long to agree on scopes of work, obtain reliable quote(s), and therefore being unable to engage external support in real time.
If it takes too long to engage external support then accessing their capacity and expertise ceases to represent a viable resourcing strategy - placing further pressure on the In-House team.
Accordingly, an In-House external counsel management strategy that not only manages external provider costs but ensures that external providers are mobilised rapidly is in and of itself a valuable resource.
In this piece, we identify the legacy challenges associated with engaging external providers and outline strategies to help make that process more efficient, including using GLS Quick Quotes™.
The Challenge for legal counsel
In most cases need for external support arises on short notice and the support is needed in a hurry. Almost every brief requiring external support is time-sensitive.
Yet the process of engaging external support invariably involves a process that is itself time intensive and tends to look like this:
- Preparing a scope of work
- Identifying appropriate providers
- Sending briefs
- Clearing conflicts
- Responding to clarifications
- Waiting for finalised proposals
- Comparing different proposals
- Raising your own queries
- Receiving clarifications
- Reviewing updated proposals
- Appointing provider
- Finalising the engagement
- Project/matter kick-off
The 'time cost' In-House teams incur working through the above steps can be significant and increases exponentially in the case of international transactions and new market work.
Ironically, the pressure that In-House legal counsel face to reduce external costs by sourcing through a multi-provider strategy (e.g. usually 2-3 quotes) results in increased ‘time costs’ for each engagement.
What In-House counsel get back
Ask any In-House lawyer and they will express amazement at how different, and at times, incomparable, the responses from different providers can be to the same request for services.
Making an “apples to apples” comparison of service provider proposals is not always possible, particularly where different pricing and project assumptions are used.
Whilst the notion of a “panel” would alleviate some of the above difficulties, very few businesses operate a panel given the restraints it places on sourcing competitively.
All too often the In-House team elects not to engage external support and assumes the workload itself – adding further to its resource crunch and potentially denying it the expertise it might require.
Tips for driving efficiencies
Whilst much of the above process engagement process is inevitable, there are things that the In-House team can do to expedite many parts of the process, including the following:
- Initiate Early: raise your request for support as early as you can
- Scope: get this as precise as possible to reduce the potential for clarifications
- Assumptions: define the assumptions providers can use regarding the scope of work
- Deliverables: clearly state the deliverables that you wish to receive
- Pricing: insist that all providers use common pricing assumptions that you provide
- Clarifications: aggregate and communicate all queries to providers at the same time
- Format: dictate the format for response to allow for a straight-line comparison
- Minimalism: don’t ask for things you don’t need – you will need to review it
- Template: develop your own standard template for requesting proposals
It is paramount that the required scope of work be defined correctly as if you do not know what you are asking for, how will you know when you receive it.
Another way for In-House teams
In-House teams need to focus on the precision of their requests and demand disciplined responses from their external providers in order to make qualitative and efficient appointments.
Additionally, GLS has totally disrupted the time it takes for any business to receive a fully transparent, fixed price legal support proposal via GLS Quick Quotes™ - our online quotation system.
GLS Quick Quotes™ delivers to you:
- a fixed price quotation for your specific transaction
- complete transparency around scope of work, deliverables, assumptions and pricing
- a proposal typically delivered within 30 minutes (where all information is provided)
- an opportunity to see what world class legal support looks like at a disruptive price point
For any common legal needs that most businesses might encounter, GLS is able to provide a fully costed support proposal that observes the above principles in around 30 minutes.
Legal Service Providers are a resource category that must be performance managed to achieve as much for you as possible – See GLS External Counsel Management™.