ACC offers this Legal Operations Maturity Model as a reference tool. Use it to benchmark maturity in any given area(s), bearing in mind that priorities and aspirational targets will vary based on department size, staffing and budgets. We have partnered with leading legal service providers to produce the Foundational Toolkit to advance in each of the 14 functions. Members can link to the tools and on-demand webcasts below.

Maturity Model Stages


  • Majority of outsourced work directed to law firms

  • Law firms at arm’s length from in-house law department; relationships may be somewhat untrusting

  • Law firms selected and managed by frontline counsel

  • Ad hoc engagement and billing terms; billing generally on hourly rates; limited invoice review and analytics.


  • Some consideration or use of legal process outsourcing vendors or alternative legal service providers (LSPs)

  • Concerted effort to improve collaboration with law firms and LSPs (e.g., through feedback, conferences, joint process improvement efforts)

  • Vendor consolidation underway; some use of preferred providers to gain leverage and improve operational efficiency

  • Resources dedicated to managing supplier relationships (often under Legal Operations)

  • Billing guidelines incorporated into e-billing/matter management systems and enforced through invoice review

  • Some/limited use of alternative fee arrangements (AFAs); learning what types of work and how to implement them successfully

  • Defining key performance indicators and developing a dashboard to track metrics, including cost-effectiveness of external resources

  • Some informal or ad hoc law firm/supplier evaluation

  • Legal recognizes the business case for diversity and inclusion (D&I) and begins to measure and implement programs to improve law firm D&I.


  • Right-sourcing an ongoing consideration and LPOs/LSPs often integrated into legal services delivery model; well-established preferred counsel model

  • Suppliers considered value-producing business partners; systematic use of value-adds (e.g. training, secondments) and value-enabling capabilities such as project management and technology

  • Outside counsel and vendor management centralized, dedicated function(s) with involvement in RFPs, engagements, pricing, and performance reviews to drive continuous process improvement and innovation; governance includes disciplined policy, exceptions, conflicts, and data security management

  • AFAs well-understood and utilized according to established principles; systems smoothly incorporate/support AFAs in billing and metrics/dashboards; procedures exist to assess value and reconcile pricing to cost/scope variances

  • Data-based decision-making in counsel selection/evaluation/pricing (e.g. outcomes are considered in law firm selection)

  • Legal, Procurement, and Finance fully aligned and well-integrated with respect to supplier selection/management and spend management processes

  • Standardized supplier quality/performance metrics; regular, structured, and mutual feedback

  • Diverse suppliers proactively identified and metrics used to encourage D&I in staffing matters.

Foundational Tools

Attorney Onboarding Best Practices
The purpose of this document is to recommend best practices around the on-boarding of new outside attorneys.

Budgeting Recommendations
Budgets should be prepared on a “life of matter” basis, but should be updated periodically as the matter and assumptions evolve over time.

Diversity Practices Questionnaire for Vendors
This is a sample diversity practices questionnaire for vendors to complete as part of a Request for Proposal (RFP) or upon contracting.

Accelerating your Law Department’s DEI Journey
This webinar discusses how you can accelerate your law department's DEI journey.

Law firm Innovation Capabilities Questionnaire
Sample survey questions to be used with law firms to gather data on innovation initiatives within the law firm.

RFP Guidelines
RFP’s (Requests for Proposal) can be a helpful tool to assist in selecting the right law firm for material matters.

Legal Operations Maturity Model Web Series
These 14 programs primarily address low to moderate maturity of the legal ops function.

Attorney Satisfaction Template
Template for Scoring Satisfaction with Outside Attorneys

Advancing DEI Strategy with Actionable Law Firm Diversity Data: An In-house Legal Resource
A report sharing leading practices for in-house legal departments on how to engage their outside counsel most effectively with respect to setting DEI standards and promoting equitable opportunities for all law firm lawyers on client matters

Guide to Value Based Fees
A step-by-step approach to help those new to the process get started and to help those who are veterans of the process consider whether there may be opportunities to improve what they already do.

Guidelines and Recommendations for Developing Dashboards
A good legal spend dashboard provides a high level overview of your legal spend and delivers key data points on one screen or page.

Outside Counsel Guidelines Template
Best practices and guideline review and development template

Top Metrics
Definition of top metrics used and how to calculate and use them.

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