November 6, 2019
Champions Carry the Flaming Torch
By Catherine J. Moynihan, AVP Legal Management Services, ACC
The 2019 ACC Value Champions who convened at the ACC Annual Meeting said they started their value initiatives in response to an external impetus: They landed in new companies due to spin-offs, or responded to market challenges by undertaking extreme cost-cutting. There were many references to fire – from hot embers to burning platforms. It was compelling to hear how these Champions, and those before them, carried on after fighting those threatening flames, becoming torchbearers by spreading carefully tended new value-focused management practices.
 
When Deutsche Bank teamed up with QuisLex to create an eDiscovery Center of Excellence, they provided their proof of concept by tackling some of the most significant matters to get big results. “Then others wanted to get in on that,” noted Sirisha Gummaregula, Chief Operating Officer for QuisLex. “You need to market [your initiative] internally.”
 
Past Champion and soon-to-be general counsel of MSA Safety, Stephanie Sciullo, agreed that internal perception is essential. She pointed out that Legal at MSA got momentum when new hires were selected in part because of proven skillsets in project management, process improvement, and financial analysis. People noticed, and the legal department gained influence by garnering respect. 
 
Similarly, McAfee’s value initiative, creating a tool to intake, triage, and route legal requests, created the capacity to embed lawyers in the business units more deeply. “We got more involved with the business clients, even though we were sending them into a tool,” said Ron Wills, Sr. Director and Chief of Staff to the President and Chief Revenue Officer. “We were discovering risks we were not aware of by getting involved earlier in the product development lifecycle.”
 
Law firm co-Champions also reported radiating effects. Their solutions to burning client challenges led to enhanced practices they could take to other clients. Both Thompson Coburn and past honoree Ogletree Deakins, partnering with Rabo Finance and hhgregg respectively, revamped how processes, people, and data were deployed to improve the cost-effectiveness of legal services. What began as bespoke solutions are now enhancing the firms’ value propositions elsewhere. 
 
When the conversation turned to macro trends, two-time co-Champion Fred Paulmann, CEO of the Counsel Management Group, pointed to increasing sophistication in applying data analysis to outside counsel management. Like his clients Toyota Motors N.A. and Andeavor, more legal departments are using data to set parameters within cascading levels of decision-making. Learning about how to anticipate scope, set fees, and manage one type of matter or phase is applied to others – the torch touches and the flame spreads (but nothing burns down). 
 
ACC is now accepting nominations to be named 2020 ACC Value Champions. If you have cut costs, improved predictability and/or achieved better outcomes, submit a nomination by January 31, 2020, and you could be honored at the next ACC Annual Meeting, joining this cohort of Champions who continue to learn from each other as they advance value practices. 
 
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Legal Ops for Small & Medium Legal Departments; It's all about Bootstrapping
By Catherine J. Moynihan, AVP Legal Management Services, ACC
The verb of the day in the session on Best Practices in Legal Operations for Small and Midsize Company GCs was “bootstrap,” defined by Miriam-Webster as: “To promote or develop by initiative and effort with little or no assistance.” This session cantered through all 14 rows of the ACC Legal Operations Maturity Model, making suggestions to bootstrap effective legal operations in each one. In keeping with the cowboy ethos that the term connotes, the presenters conveyed the message that there’s no use making excuses about what you don’t have; you have to grab and use what you can. Here are a few of their suggestions for ways to make do.
 
Metrics, as we all know, are the language of the business, so you have to have some. As Brian Campbell, SVP, Corporate Development & General Counsel for DHI Group, put it: "Don't be caught on the defensive without metrics [to explain your department's performance]."  He suggested scouring the landscape, noting that the sales team is a good source of data. The panelists also suggested using spreadsheets to track volume of service requests, turnaround time, litigation, and other matters and contribution to revenue and business value. 
 
Segueing to Internal Resources Management, panelist Bill Deckelman, EVP and general counsel of DXC Technology, noted that no matter the size of the team, "It's important to know how people spend their time."  He also pointed out that you can gain a lot of leverage by hiring "T-shaped" lawyers. "Look for folks who embrace change, enjoy using technology, and collaborate well – legal expertise is table stakes; the top of the bar is digital skills.”  
 
Sliding over to Technology and Contracting, the two GCs with small legal departments said they are automating all they can. Campbell pointed out that automation and playbooks reduce the number of legal touches and free up capacity for more legal advice at high levels. Eric Reicin, VP, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at MorganFranklin, LLC, said that there some “easy things you can do,” including implementing e-signatures and simplifying contracts. Campbell suggested using existing tools, such as SharePoint, to chip in on documents, provide templates with alternative provisions, and integrate document retention. He emphasized that it’s critical for adoption to include the businesspeople when developing a new self-serve tool. 
 
When turning to External Resources Management (but not leaving tools – ever), Reicin said. “The low-hanging fruit is e-billing,” since all of the billing tools include analytics modules. Campbell helpfully suggested leveraging the people, processes, and technology that law firms and alternative legal service providers can provide (yes, ALSPs serve small and medium legal departments, too). 
 
Beyond putting in a disciplined process that fits that of the financial controller, the main advice about Financial Management turned out to be employing a legal operations leader with a financial background! Others suggested hiring legal ops staff from HR, Compliance, or Project Management, depending on priorities. Reicin emphasized that as the internal change agent, it's crucial for the legal ops director to be part of the GC's leadership team.  
 
In keeping with that inclusive notion, the presenters were adamant that Legal needs to be part of the corporate strategic planning process. “You need to find your seat at the table, be part of the solution, and don't talk legal," said Campbell. "Make yourself part of the core strategy for the organization." The critical parting advice from all presenters focused on the importance of understanding technology and how it’s evolving. “You create your own prison,” Reicin said. "Your CEO doesn't know the rules, so you can set them and create your own success." 
 
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Meet External Resource Management Interest Group Chair, Sam Frasso
For November, we're pleased to introduce Samantha "Sam" Frasso, Director, Business Management and Legal Operations at TIAA and Chair of the External Resource Management Interest Group.  
 
Q: Tell us one thing most people don’t know about you.
A: Most people would be surprised to learn that I taught Science for a decade before joining the Legal Operations world. When I tell people, I am often asked if I miss having my summers off. I definitely do not. I also have two rescue mutts, one of which is a tripod; the missing leg doesn’t stop him from keeping up with his big brother.  
  
Q: What is one thing you’re excited about in your role as chair?
A: Some of my biggest “a-ha” moments have happened at ACC events, learning from my peers. As a chair, I am thrilled to further facilitate the connections and knowledge transfer that can be game-changers for some.  
  
Q: Name one of the Group’s past accomplishments that you’re most excited about.
A: Working with our members to update and Publishing the External Resource Management Interest Group Maturity Model Version 2.0.
  
Q: What do you have planned through the end of 2019?
A: John Pfannenbecker is the new co-chair for the team, and I am looking forward to introducing him to the broader group. Based on feedback from our members, we have decided to focus on vendor risk for the remaining meetings in 2019. 
 
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New Benchmarking Opportunity - See How Your Department Compares in Legal Operations Maturity

Perhaps you have been using the ACC Legal Operations Maturity Model to assess your legal department and communicate internally what “advanced” looks like? Even if you haven't, now you can expand your horizons by assessing your department's maturity and comparing to others. 

ACC is teaming up with Wolters Kluwer to learn where legal departments currently stand across 15 legal operations competencies such as contracts management, financial management, and information governance. Once responses are in, we will provide an interactive tool so you can compare maturity with a peer group you define based on industry, revenue, department size, and spending. Here’s the link to participate.

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Highlights from the ACC Legal Ops News & Announcements Page
The ACC Legal Ops News & Announcements tab tracks the best items to keep you well informed - following are some highlights:
 

General counsel stand up to improve the legal talent supply chain
General counsel exert an outsized influence on the legal market.  Through an open letter, some of them are taking the long view by trying to influence the health and vitality of the legal talent supply chain. They are looking for other general counsel to join them. [Bill Henderson in Legal Evolution blog]

5 Ways Law Departments Can Drive Organizational Change
In a recent informal survey of participants at the ACC Xchange meeting in Minneapolis, 76% of respondents reported that their law departments either “reluctantly endure” change or “absolutely abhor” it at 7%. Only 2%—a single respondent—claimed that their department enthusiastically embraced change. Yet 79% of respondents reported that their law departments implemented “significant change” either “sometimes” or “often.” [Kevin Clem in ALM] 

The Elements of Legal Spend Management Programs
As legal costs continue to rise, organizations are constantly faced with developing and implementing legal spend management programs to control, budget and forecast future legal costs. As a result, legal operations units are often tasked with managing these highly critical initiatives. Although many new technical options offer solutions that appear automated and utilize artificial intelligence or machine learning, it’s important to note that at very basic levels AI will be incorporated to assist in program execution and create modest efficiency gains within the program. [ALM]

We are adding more hand-picked items all the time - be sure to bookmark or subscribe to https://www2.acc.com/legalops/news/.
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Events in November and December

View all upcoming ACC events here.
 
NOVEMBER
  
Date: November 7 @ 11:00 a.m. (EST)
Topic: Internal Resource Management Maturity Model
Interest Group:  Internal Resource Management

Date: November 12 at 3:00 p.m. (EST)
Topic: Contract Lifecycle Management Preparation (Virtual Roundtable)
Interest Group: Process, Project & Knowledge Management
Pitfalls to avoid, needs assessment, how and where to house, selecting vendors/tools/external resources
 
Date:  November 14 at Noon (EST))
Topic: Best Practices in Strategic Planning: An Interview with Robin Snasdell (Consilio)
Interest Group: Strategic Planning

Date: November 14 at 2:00 p.m. (EST))
Topic: Year in Review: Maturity Model and 2020 Agenda (Virtual Roundtable)
Interest Group: External Resource Management
 
Date: November 19 at 1:00 p.m. (EST)
Topic: TBD
Interest Group: Metrics & Analytics Interest Group
 
Date: November 20 at 3:00 p.m. (EST))
Topic: Metrics for Discovery (Virtual Roundtable)
Interest Group: Information Governance & Discovery
 
DECEMBER
  
Date: December 5 @ 11:00 a.m. (EST)
Topic: Technology Series, Part I
Interest Group: Internal Resource Management & Tools & Technology

Date: December 5 @ 3:00 p.m. (EST)
Topic:  Benchmarking
Industry Group:  Healthcare Manufacturing

Date: December 12 @ 2:00 p.m. (EST)
Topic:  TBD
Interest Group:  External Resource Management

Date: December 18 at 3:00 p.m. (EST)
Topic: Data Privacy Concerns: Impact on IG & Discovery (Virtual Roundtable)
Interest Group: Information Governance & Discovery
 
If you would like to participate in any of these events, please email lawdepartmentops@acc.com to receive a calendar invitation - be sure to mention which event(s)!

 

 
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How to Get More Involved in the ACC Legal Ops Community
There are many ways to get involved with and contribute to the ACC Legal Operations community and raise your professional profile. We would love to hear your ideas, learn and collaborate together!
  • Join the ACC Legal Operations Maturity Model 2.0 working group. Things are evolving fast and we are excited to take the acclaimed model to the next step. The Interest Groups are already making updates, and we are seeking volunteers to join the team to update Change, IP, Contracts, Financial & Compliance Management.
  • Participate in or start a Regional Group to build relationships through in-person interaction. 
  • Champion the Legal Operations function - the ACC Legal Operations LinkedIn Showcase page offers peers, in-house counsel and others in the legal ecosystem leading practices shared among our members.  Help show off the value of legal ops professionals - follow it to get updates, share and tweet articles (#ACCLegalOps).
  • Let us know if you would like to be featured in or author an article in the ACC Legal Ops Observer, the ACC Docket and the LinkedIn Legal Ops showcase page (a package deal!).  
  • Be an Ambassador – many GCs are curious about the rise of legal ops, and we are communicating best practices at ACC Chapter events. We even have a “Legal Ops 101” deck you can use as a template. 

Email us to get involved - with offers to share your know-how, suggestions or any questions! LawDepartmentOps@ACC.com.

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Not a Member of ACC Legal Ops? Join Now!

Join now to get access to resources, participate in any of the Interest Groups, and use the online Member Forum for ad hoc benchmarking and referrals. The ACC Legal Ops section is active throughout the year, adding resources, conducting benchmarking studies, and providing webinars by legal operations professionals, for legal ops professionals. 

For more information, visit www.acc.com/legalops or contact LawDepartmentOps@acc.com

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Contributing Editor:

Champions Carry the Flaming Torch
Legal Ops for Small & Medium Legal Departments; It's all about Bootstrapping
Meet External Resource Management Interest Group Chair, Sam Frasso
New Benchmarking Opportunity - See How Your Department Compares in Legal Operations Maturity
Highlights from the ACC Legal Ops News & Announcements Page
Events in November and December
How to Get More Involved in the ACC Legal Ops Community
Not a Member of ACC Legal Ops? Join Now!
Our Mission
The Legal Ops Observer is devoted to reporting on issues important to the members of the ACC Legal Ops section— from the challenges they face to best practices that work, to how members effectively implement innovation within their individual companies and define the future of legal ops across the industry. Follow the ACC on Twitter at @ACCinhouse #ACCLegalOps.
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