The Inside Story: Legal Departments and Their Internal Clients

The Inside Story: Legal Departments and Their Internal Clients

The trend of corporate legal departments focusing on providing value and showing their worth to their internal clients continues. According to Corporate Counsel, creating internal websites as a way to improve internal relationships is increasing.

The article cited General Electric as a recent example. The company launched an intranet site for its global law and policy department. Approximately 4,500 people have access to relevant content, outside counsel information and a detailed global directory of in-house counsel.

Dan Hendy, associate general counsel at GE, acknowledged to Corporate Counsel that it was a major investment but one that’s worthwhile because of its expected efficiency and productivity benefits. Instead of taking hours over emails and calls “to even get pointed in the right direction,” it can take seconds. Hendy added that future plans are in the works to add self-service tools, like apps, wizards, and NDAs, to save time — attorney time. The internal sites also serve as a marketing tool for in-house counsel and can help reinforce the department’s value to the company.

The need for corporate legal departments to efficiently service internal clients and prove their worth as a profit center, not a cost center was a theme among presenters at ACC’s Annual Meeting this year as well. Many corporations reported accomplishing this by offering repositories of contract templates and playbooks, self-service training on things like writing SOWs, red-flag issues, and a ticketing system to track requests and turnaround times.

Michael Kaplan, SVP and Chief Legal Officer of Red Robin, discussed how they rolled out a full contract management portal, created by Bryan Cave, to centralize, streamline and track contract needs internally. They reported things like contract volume, cycle times and on-time performance as a result, showing their value as a department.

A focus on legal departments’ internal customers, and using technology to accomplish this, is yet another example of how the legal industry continues to change. For more, download our white paper The Agent of Change: How Corporate Legal Departments and Firms Can Mutually Thrive in the Changing Legal Market.



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