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In-house Access Insight & Commentary for In-House Counsel Worldwide

ACC Value Challenge Event: DC

Posted in Value & Innovation

The situation:

•    The economy is in recession
•    Businesses of every size are being impacted
•    Internal staff is being asked to do more with less
•    Layoffs are a matter of fact.

It should be no surprise that this slump is impacting the legal industry. Many blog sites, including the Wall Street Journal and Above the Law, have daily posts on staff cuts and other changes in the marketplace. Numerous surveys indicate a gap between in-house counsel and outside counsel. Where is value and how does it relate to annual spend?

On April 13, 2009, I had an opportunity to attend my second ACC Value Challenge event. Unlike nearly everyone else in the room, I’m not an attorney. My background in the legal industry and understanding of law firms gives me an interesting perspective of the two somewhat differing worlds. In attendance were a number of law firm partners and in-house counsel, including a number of general counsel from local corporations.

My twitter stream (@time2simplify) had a few gems:

One attendee recognized that the ACC Value Challenge event is being held at the Ritz-Carlton… many lols. "best place at best price"

Both law firms and in-house departments share a similar problem: Desire to impact the bottom line is shared by both managing partners & CFOs

Take-away items from the event include:

  • One definition of value: Good work – and perhaps value – is not over-lawyering (defined as anything that is not needed and appropriate)
  • How are attorneys using technology? Extranets, e-billing, and knowledge management were a few examples.
  • If the golden gate bridge can be built on a contract, couldn’t a large legal matter?

So legal community, what’s your point of view?