Legal departments are increasingly asked to prove their value. The days of viewing legal departments as a simple cost center are over, making way for a new paradigm for General Counsels to take on.
CEOs want to understand where expenses are going and how teams are working to mitigate costs and utilize data to make strategic decisions. In this brave new world, GCs are effectively managing a small business within their organization, with their clients extending from the CEO, other departments, and even the company customer base.
Whether you’re just getting started in proving your department value or you’re looking to expand how you present your department, there are a number of areas where you can prove legal department value by measuring and reporting on them.
Contracts are the low-hanging fruit when it comes to reporting on legal department value. If you’re not currently tracking any department metrics, you can start here today by tracking the number of contracts, type of agreements, contract value, turn-around times, etc. using a spreadsheet. As your department matures, tools like ALOE can help report these for you in real-time.
61% of CEOs want legal departments to take a more data-driven approach to risk management, while 68% of their GCs report they don’t have accurate, up-to-date information on legal risks to be able to provide this approach.
It is imperative that legal teams maintain an up-to-date understanding of where risks lie, what to watch out for, and what consequences would be. GCs struggling to obtain budget for technology to aid them in this kind of reporting should tie risk management and legal process to business outcomes, providing an ROI for the technological investment.
Governance + Compliance
Reporting on governance and compliance displays what your department does outside of contract and litigation management. These are business-critical elements that require department time and resource, and reporting on them should be clean and current to communicate how your efforts enable business continuity without costly interruptions.
Litigation is a time of both challenge and opportunity for legal teams. The spotlight is on the legal department, making all your actions highly visible. A clean reporting cadence and system will aid you greatly in keeping your stakeholders informed. A few value points that you should share with stakeholders to prove legal department value in litigation are:
- What are the outside legal fees and what is the schedule of when they will be due?
- How can risk be mitigated?
- What is the potential cost of the suit/can costs be mitigated by settling?
- How you saved money in legal fees and other potential spend
If the cost of legal fees influenced you to settle, share why you settled and how you saved the organization money by taking that route. With good reporting and strategy, your legal department value can still be proven event when cases are lost.
The IP that your organization holds bolsters the organization. Regular reporting on the value of existing IP shows how you are contributing to organizational value. The legal function can also help provide context for decisions on what IP is worth continuing to invest in and whether it’s more cost effective to support old IP or invest funds in registering a new patent. Present competitive value and an understanding of the current competitive landscape to help stakeholders understand when there is value in IP investiture.
Client satisfaction is the benchmark against which legal teams measure success. Clients don’t always need to agree with your decisions, however, they should be satisfied with your work. One way to help improve client satisfaction is to report the right information to the right stakeholders. Determine who needs to know what details about your activities. A contract requestor will not likely need to know information about IP management, however, executive-level and board stakeholders need high-level reporting across department activities.
Client satisfaction surveys are a great way for you to track your department perception. When possible, add your questions to larger company-wide surveys in order to gain a better response rate. The average response rate on surveys is 30%, so combining yours with another department can help to bolster responses across the board. Once you’ve surveyed your clients, be sure to report on the results and any adjustments you might make based on their feedback.
- Know your stakeholders
- Vary your reporting based on your audience
- Develop a report generating process
- Tie risk management to business outcomes if you need budget for legal tech
- Track client satisfaction
Want more information on how to prove legal department value?