Value Champions are industry leaders in integrating people, processes, technology, and data to enhance efficiency and value in their legal departments
WASHINGTON (June 9, 2020) — In-house law has come a long way in meeting the pressures of global regulation and competition. Now, a constellation of well-leveraged data, streamlined processes, innovative technologies, and creative new operating models is thriving in law departments all over the world. The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) today announced its 2020 ACC Value Champions, recognizing nine such innovative law departments and seven external partners as pioneers of optimized legal services.
Since 2008, the ACC Value Champions program has highlighted corporate law departments that continue to embrace creative, data-driven solutions to streamline operations. This year’s Champions range from manufacturers to investment firms and include several alumni. Their strategic approaches made numerous processes more efficient, increased the speed of work, enhanced the value of legal service spending, and in several cases cut costs dramatically.
“It’s important to understand just how advanced these Value Champions are at implementing creative legal solutions, especially as technology and legal operations continue to gain traction in corporate law departments,” said Catherine J. Moynihan, associate vice president of legal management services at ACC. “The 2020 Champions think ahead of the curve, not only from an operational perspective for their department, but also incorporating it into a wider business strategy.”
A panel of past honorees selected the following 2020 ACC Value Champions:
7-ELEVEN (Dallas) and PERKINS COIE (Dallas) – Demonstrating how innovation radiates, past Champion 7-Eleven applied a value-based sourcing model it had developed with a different partner to a challenge in another area, this time collaborating with Perkins Coie (a fellow past Champion) to address exponential growth in contract volume. Perkins adapted third party tools to build a platform for intake, triage, document sharing and reporting. A fixed fee renders budgets 100 percent predictable, despite a 300 percent increase in work volume, and the model has reduced per-matter legal costs by 66 percent for merchandizing contracts and 18 percent for digital/IT contracts.
APPLIED MATERIALS, Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.) and ORRICK (San Francisco) – Upholding its culture of legal innovation, Applied Materials worked with longtime partner Orrick to create a scalable, efficient solution to evaluate and update supplier contracts. This exemplary client-firm operational collaboration involved analyzing and testing various options and then implementing an innovative, highly-structured, bot-supported approach that provides the same value as conventional contract review at significantly lower costs and project completion in a fraction of the expected time.
EXELON CORPORATION (Chicago), HBR CONSULTING (Chicago), and PERSUIT (New York) – Facing cost-optimization and pressure to streamline after a series of mergers, Exelon engaged HBR Consulting to help reduce external spend while upholding quality, diversity, and sustainability goals. Under the resulting new program, Exelon utilized PERSUIT’s online bidding platform to balance pricing with qualitative attributes. The result of these combined initiatives was a 31 percent savings from matter-level bidding and a 60 percent reduction in overall outside budget variation in 2019. Exelon also saw a 27 percent increase in spend with minority and women-owned business enterprise (MWBE) firms, and an eight percent increase in spend with diverse associates at majority-owned firms. The savings funded investment in Exelon’s internal legal team and professional development opportunities.
FIR TREE PARTNERS (New York) – Not letting its small size impede its innovation, Fir Tree has streamlined its legal operations by using many of the same processes and technology solutions adopted by large corporate law departments. Using the ACC Legal Operations Maturity Model as a roadmap, the team targeted legacy pain-points and leveraged data, alternative legal service providers and ingenuity to add tech solutions. The legal department has improved productivity by about 60 percent. They utilize a connected ecosystem of 12 tech-enabled legal operations systems, monitor 65 KPIs on their dashboards, and have saved the company more than a million dollars to date.
PEARSON plc (London) and MORAE GLOBAL CORPORATION (Houston) – Partnering with Morae, Pearson’s legal team created a transformational shared service center to support commercial transactions around the world. The innovative center brings together standardized processes, workflows, and templates; scalable resourcing; a common technology platform plus web-based self-service portals powered by Onit; and dashboard analytics. This legal department initiative contributed to the company achieving a £300 million cost reduction goal. Morae now dedicates 21 people across its Houston, London, and Bangalore offices to the TSC, including attorneys, project managers, technology experts, and an engagement manager. Turnaround times on contracts have improved by 30 percent, and only 1.6 percent are escalated due to non-standard clauses. The annual cost of service delivery was reduced by 35 percent.
PINEBRIDGE INVESTMENTS (New York) – The legal team of rapidly growing global asset manager PineBridge Investments obtained data on how its 30-plus member legal team, in offices across six countries, used its time. The team decided to implement a legal ops function that replaced core technology systems in a remarkably short period of time. Exceptionally strong change management practices, from system selection through roll-out, led to 100 percent adoption of the new systems in only four months. The team took a DIY approach to implementation, maintenance, training and user support, reducing costs by 50 percent compared to the previous bespoke platforms. These cost savings self-funded the addition of a document management system.
TC ENERGY (Calgary, Alta.) and SHOOK, HARDY & BACON (Kansas City, Mo.) – This North American energy company decided that innovation was needed to be nimbler in the delivery of jurisdictional licensing opinions to its engineers. TC Energy engaged (past Champion) Shook, Hardy & Bacon to design a secure, scalable, easy-to-use online tool that is accessible around-the-clock. The tool cuts time spent on licensing by 95 percent, and is on track to save US$100,000 per year in legal advice, while also reducing risk by improving consistency. A three-stage flat fee arrangement with reductions in each stage to reflect efficiencies and provide value and budget predictability.
VMWARE (Palo Alto, Calif.) and QUISLEX (New York) – A 2015 Value Champion, VMware Legal did not rest on its laurels. To keep up with a rapidly growing $10B+ business, they needed to scale how they operated. To redefine the way they worked, and to elevate their value, they focused on three core areas: (i) taking their technology and data analytics strategy to the next level; (ii) expanding their outsourcing and insourcing capabilities; and (iii) building a team with diverse skills, competencies, and talents. Working with longtime partner (and past Champion) QuisLex, VMware conducted an in-depth analysis of over 100 transactional work types. These analytics led to increased outsourcing, creation of a new global internal state-of-the-art transactional team, and development of 13 self-service portals that target high-volume workstreams and compliance areas. These portals are accessible 24/7 from any device, processing thousands of requests which have reduced Legal touch on some workstreams to as low as nine percent.
WHIRLPOOL CORPORATION (Benton Harbor, Mich.) – When the legal department at the Whirlpool Corporation was charged with adopting the Continuous Improvement (CI) methodology sweeping through the company, the Disputes team went first. Extensive training and documentation of “Standard Work” supported improving processes to eliminate waste, and everything from physical layout to technology and outside counsel, was fair game. Skepticism was replaced by culture change, as the CI mindset generated a multiplier effect. The projects that came out of that lab would ensure 100 percent budget predictability, reduce costs associated with product liability disputes by 18 percent, raise employee engagement scores by nine percent, and significantly reduce outside counsel expense.
About the ACC Value Challenge: The ACC Value Challenge, launched in 2008, has provided resources and training for in-house counsel and law firm lawyers to help affect change within the legal industry. By re-aligning relationships and promoting value-based fee arrangements and other management tactics, such as project management, process improvement, efficient use of technology and knowledge management tools, the market for the delivery of legal services benefits from the same insights and wisdom upon which every other service industry relies to provide world-class value to their clients. For more information, visit www.acc.com/valuechallenge.
About ACC: The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is a global legal association that promotes the common professional and business interests of in-house counsel who work for corporations, associations and other organizations through information, education, networking, and advocacy. With more than 45,000 members in 85 countries employed by over 10,000 organizations, ACC connects its members to the people and resources necessary for both personal and professional growth. By in-house counsel, for in-house counsel.® For more information, visit www.acc.com and follow ACC on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.