In-house puts pressure on firms to innovate

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Half of all in-house legal teams are engaged in innovation, compared to a quarter in 2012.

Twenty-six percent of in-house teams have already implemented innovative practices, up 15 percent on 2012. A further 21 per cent are planning to implement innovative practices, up from nine percent in 2012, according to the latest Association of Corporate Counsel (formerly ACLA) Benchmarking Report.

With GCs reducing their reliance on external firms, Tanya Khan, vice president and managing director for Australia and Asia Pacific at the ACC, said firms need to come up with innovative strategies to remain ahead of the game.

“It is important for firms to note that clients are seeking more than just innovation in relation to alternative fee arrangements, although this remains critical,” she said.  “In-house counsel are also looking for new ways to partner with firms, to structure their panels and have guaranteed cost certainty and firms should be proactive about encouraging innovation in these areas. 
“Firms should also invest in determining what is really important to their clients and how, as a combined effort, in-house counsel and law firms can improve and better demonstrate the value of the legal services provided.”

The study found that innovation strategies were most likely to be implemented in in publicly listed and government organisations, and in the energy/resources and consumer/wholesale sectors. 

According to Khan, a key motivator is the heightened pressure in-house legal teams are under  to demonstrate greater value to the organisation.

“Most of the GCs we work with are keen to shift the perception of their legal functions away from being cost centres to being business enablers and, in some cases, even being profit drivers,” she said.

“GCs are adopting new technologies, and improving workflow, with new processes and systems which reduce risk, enable better contract management and, importantly, deliver better reporting on matter management within their function.”

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