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How progressive Legal functions are increasing productivity while reducing external spend during COVID-19

By Sam Burrett,

05 May 2020

Legal work never stops, not even in the face of an unprecedented global pandemic.

We’ve seen corporate Legal departments across the world face fluctuations in workload. Some are struggling to support increased business demand, reviewing more contracts than ever. Others are attempting to implement technology solutions, such as e-signatures, to adapt to new working conditions.

Others still are scrambling to upskill, as COVID-19 presents new external and internal Legal challenges that businesses must navigate.

What unites Legal departments right now is that both their workload and their way of working is changing, likely forever.

This short guide provides an overview of how forward-thinking GC’s are re-evaluating the resourcing of their functions to deal with fluctuations in the amount and type of Legal work they face.

Business (and Legal) priorities are shifting

Businesses have had to refocus their energies to cope with changes in demand and supply, leading to plenty of issues for General Counsels to handle. Yet, as you know, ‘business-as-usual’ Legal work remains. In the current climate, some of the questions top GC’s are asking include:

1. How can the business approve, sign and store contracts when wet signatures are no longer efficient - or possible - when everyone is working remotely?

2. How do Lawyers mitigate risk when the climate is so unprecedented and unpredictable?

3. And, amongst it all, how can ‘business-as-usual’ Legal work be adequately resourced to the point where the legal team can get to the bottom of the pile?

Top GC’s are looking to address these questions with strategies that maximise the utility of their finite budgets and resources.

‘More for less’ is here to stay

The pressure to do more for less isn’t new to in-house teams, but it has been amplified by the global pandemic. In the face of new challenges, your team requires a new approach to managing their Legal function and meeting constricting budget targets.

COVID-19 has unearthed and intensified Legal issues, such as privacy and remote working, that will challenge the capability of Legal teams. In addition, many Legal teams will face capacity issues, as ‘business as usual’ work is neglected to focus on ‘putting out fires.’

To meet these capability and capacity gaps, Legal leaders must be strategic with their resources. You’ll find many GC’s are already reviewing how they use their Legal budget and reallocate their external spend budget towards in-house Legal transformation by partnering with flexible Legal talent providers.

External spend isn’t the solution (though your Law Firm will try to convince you otherwise)

Not every legal team is equipped to handle the myriad of issues, including privacy and cybersecurity, increased employment queries or force majeure disputes that COVID-19 has unearthed. Where you possess specific competencies in-house your Law Firm will be only too happy to pick up the slack… and bill you for it.

Rather than spending on Law Firms, who are disincentivized by the partnership model to reduce hourly-rates, many GC’s are transitioning to an agile talent model - strategically leveraging secondees in place of external spend.

In addition, Legal budgets often don’t have the depth to accommodate an extra full-time resource, especially when GC’s are unsure about how long they will need extra resources for. This uncertainty requires a flexible solution, so progressive GCs are managing this new burden by engaging with Legal Secondment providers to plug capacity gaps.

Short-term secondments reduce the strain on legal teams and more accurately match spend with resourcing - something that finance always appreciates.

Secondees operate on flexible billing options, including part time, hourly, per day or per week, allowing GC’s to make their budget more flexible and responsive to the dynamic needs of their business.

Over to you

GC’s are relieving the burden on their team and meeting demands by utilising dynamic resourcing to bring in experienced, pragmatic lawyers on flexible contracts.

Plexus Engage enables Legal leaders to build a dynamic Legal team that can respond to the evolving needs of their business in the face of market uncertainty.

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