Unique amongst consultancies in the legal profession, our founder ran the largest and most successful legal departments and legal services organisation in the World, for over two decades. Over 250 legal department, law firm and individual career performance improvement projects have been undertaken since 2011 ranging from A-Z across the World: from AvisBudget to ZICO Law, ASEAN's premier law firm network. Client needs have been successfully met or exceeded on every occasion.
Smarter Law Solutions is currently engaged in transformation projects for global legal departments and law firms based in N.America, Brazil, Central Europe, Israel & Singapore.
Rollover or click these case studies.
A General Counsel's Analysis & Improvement
Both the general counsel and the C-suite boss of the GC met us jointly to describe how with their company's recent change in strategic direction and industry focus, the GC's seniority and suitability for the new business were inevitable questions; change was proving difficult.
Smarter Law Solutions conducted by qualitative and quantitative assessments of the legal function as a whole including its relationship with all of its stakeholders and the role of the GC. In fact, the biggest challenge was that whilst the GC was highly praised for their individual performance as a lawyer, there was a significant capability gap between the GC and that of his team which, led to criticism of the GC as a manager and a leader.
A behavioural leadership coaching program with objectively-defined milestones was enthusiastically taken up by GC which led to the GC passing on to certain team members some of the key performance lessons adopted. As momentum built, the GC felt able, justified and supported to make strategic changes to the team also. Both the business and legal team members demonstrably appreciated and benefitted from the GC's new decisive but empathetic approach, objectively framed. A new round of promotions reflected the transformed team.
The Legal Department "False Economy" Model
A major multinational underwent a cost-cutting and restructuring exercise, using a zero-based budget approach from a Big 4 advisory practice. The legal department was reduced along with the rest of the company "back office" in typical fashion.
Smarter Law Solutions measured the Client Satisfaction rating of the legal department in the 18 months since the restructuring along with the rate of fee increase of the 4 law firms most used by the company in that period. Client satisfaction had fallen by 30% (from a high starting point) whilst the law firm fees has increased at 4 times the rate of increase of the AmLaw 100 during same period. The company was paying 3-4 times per hour externally what they would pay for the same seniority lawyer in-house.
The C-suite and legal department were surprised and galvanised by our findings. Smarter Law Solutions implemented a rebalancing of the "make vs. buy" equation by rationalising certain external law firms and fees, freeing up savings that were only then partially used to fund a new, better-resourced internal organisation we designed. The company achieved net savings greater than the original budget cutbacks through the external rationalisation and cheaper in-housing of work. Additionally, client satisfaction returned and employee fulfilment was as rated higher than prior to restructuring.
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As a former global general counsel and global leader of legal services at Ernst & Young (till 2014) Smarter Law Solutions CEO, Trevor Faure critiqued the traditional forms of law firm business development and advised how these methods can be modernised to reach World-class standards.
Revenue plateau of the highly rated Law Firm
A major law firm faced a revenue plateau over several successive years despite its stellar reputation. Instead, improved partner profits were achieved by cost-cutting to enhance profitability and lateral acquisitions with ill-defined returns. "Old guard" versus "new generation" partner tension was rife.
Smarter Law Solutions measured the Client Satisfaction rating of the law firm, comparing the Clients' general ranking of any law firm's attributes (e.g. a high priority attached to technical expertise, win-rate or diversity, etc.) versus the Client's rating of this specific law firm per attribute. This law firm was generally highly rated but performed poorly on two key attributes that were also rated as being of high priority to its Clients: project management and budgeting accuracy. There was also high mathematical correlation between areas of higher Client dissatisfaction, lower realisation rates and no corresponding financial consequence for the responsible partners, which explained some of the internal tension in terms of objective data.
We designed a project management process which could be administered by non-lawyers, a systematic client quality review cycle and consequential, transparent variables to the partner distribution formula. Revenue was boosted by higher realisation rates and larger client share-of-wallet as a direct result.
The Relationship Between Law Firm Cost & Quality
In order to assist a legal department client to select the right law firms, Smarter Law Solutions was charged with the largest cost versus quality analysis in the history of the legal profession with $200-300M a year at stake.
We designed an assessment process that prioritised work quality, analysed by the client's internal lawyers based on the law firms' responses to 6 of the client's most intractable, impactful and frequently occurring legal issues, straight from their in-boxes. However, in judging the quality and effectiveness of each answer, the client was blind to the firm identity, staffing or cost of each answer, thus removing any bias based on subjective factors. Only after this blind judging process was completed was the identity and correlation between cost and quality of the World's top law firms revealed:
• The most expensive answers are not the best quality
• The best quality answers are amongst the cheapest
• There is no ostensible link between low cost and low quality as the lower cost answers are evenly distributed throughout the quality range
• Answers of the same quality can be obtained from between $100 and $58,000.
The client was able to make the optimal highest quality - lower cost selection.
As a former global general counsel and global leader of legal services at Ernst & Young (till June 2014) Smarter Law Solutions CEO, Trevor Faure outlined the transformation imperatives that legal departments and law firms face and how addressing Zero Sum Game behaviour, work disaggregation and technology were proving instrumental.
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