Demonstrating Value in a Challenging Environment

This time last year, law department operations directors were evaluating the challenging business and legal environment and keeping their fingers crossed that the economy would rebound in 2010. But in spite, or maybe because of this, the Third Annual Law Department Operations Survey shows that the return on investing in a law department operations specialist continues to grow as more companies add this capability for their own departments.

This survey, once again developed with Blickstein Group and our advisory board, gives us a consistent platform to benchmark ourselves as a profession. We continue to provide leadership and strategic vision to our businesspeople and attorneys. We have kept an unrelenting focus on driving change and have tirelessly sought out ways to identify opportunities for business improvement and cost savings. We have honed our expertise in e-discovery, and we continue to explore alternative fee arrangements, along with other ways to control internal and external costs.

The work is not done. Fewer than half of our legal departments are capturing data, although those of us that do effectively mine and utilize the information. Developing truly innovative outside counsel billing arrangements, rather than variations on hourly bills, is not yet an easy task. And for many of us, the grim reality is that reducing staff and freezing salaries remain among the most effective ways to control internal costs.

Legal department operations have made striking progress even since this survey was introduced in 2008. The fact that we have continued to do so in an extraordinarily difficult economic environment speaks to our abilities and the inherent value that we bring to our organizations. While the challenges remain, we must stretch ourselves even further to continue that progress we have made. Our ideas and our experience bring more value now than ever before.

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David Cambria

David Cambria is the Global Director of Operations – Law, Compliance and Government Relations for Archer Daniels Midland Company. He is also a faculty member...

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