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


  • Virtually all work that is outsourced is directed to law firms

  • Law firms are at arm's length from in-house department; relationship may be somewhat untrusting or adversarial

  • Law firms are managed by frontline counsel

  • Ad-Hoc billing rates, engagement, and billing standards

  • Limited invoice review and analytics

  • Lack of supplier evaluation program


  • Limited use of alternate legal service providers (LSPs)

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

  • In-house resources (often legal operations) are overseeing cost effectiveness of law firms and LSPs

  • Billing guidelines are acknowledged & enforced through rigorous bill review

  • Alternate fee arrangements (AFAs) are in limited use and are not incorporated into billing/management systems

  • Some informal or ad hoc law firm/supplier evaluation


  • Sourcing decisions are ongoing considerations and LSPs are integrated in legal services delivery model; use of legal suppliers is driven by value provided at phase/task level

  • Law firms/LSPs are considered value producing business partners; continually improving performance and relationship

  • Outside counsel and vendor management are centralized function(s) within legal operations; involvement in RFPs, engagements, pricing, and performance review

  • AFAs considered on all matters & heavily used; systems smoothly incorporate/support AFAs in billing and metrics/dashboards; procedures exist to assess value and reconcile pricing to cost variances

  • Frequent review of budgets and performance (at least quarterly); standardized supplier quality/performance metrics; regular, structured and mutual feedback

  • Vendor management metrics integrated with GC dashboard

  • Systematic use of value-adds (e.g. training, secondments) and value-enabling capabilities such as firm/LS- provided project management and technology

  • Win rates (outcomes) are considered in vendor selection

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.

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.

Attorney Satisfaction Template
Template for Scoring Satisfaction with Outside Attorneys

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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Legal Operations Maturity Model Series - External Resources Management 
On Demand 60 Minutes
CLE/CPD Credit Available

Watch the Webcast