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

The Value Champions Strike Back

Posted in ACC News, ACC Value Challenge, Client-Firm Value, In the House, In-House Practice

Sequels are quite underrated, particularly the second one in the series.  Think about it. We all remember the first iterations of blockbuster movies, as if they were the gold standards, while most sequels are forgettable. Still, sometimes, the sequel outdoes the original. Lists of good sequels abound, but any such list has to include “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Terminator II,” “Mad Max,” “Silence of the Lambs,” “Godfather II” and “Superman II.” These are movies that make you want to come back for more. Well, the ACC Value Champions is back for its second act, and we feel the same way about our initiative to identify and celebrate the pioneers of value in the legal space.

We learned about some incredibly innovative value practices that drove change in law departments and firms, large and small, the first time we issued a call for nominations. But, as you might imagine, not all the folks who have worked hard on the value front have received the spotlight they deserve, which is why we’re now back for more. Naturally, we haven’t changed the script — we’re still looking for projects that have shined in terms of one or more of the following criteria:

Reduced legal costs — the holy grail, the summum bonum. Law departments across the world are seeking to reduce their legal spend and not just through bluntly applied discounts. While value-based, or alternative, fee arrangements are one way of reducing costs, there are many others that can be used in conjunction with AFAs, such as root cause analysis or effective project and process management.

Predictability — what your CFO demands, but what your lawyers might think is impossible. In-house departments, and their outside counsel, must use their hard-earned legal acumen to provide useful guidance on how various legal outcomes could affect the bottom line and then incorporate this information into fee arrangements and project management plans.

 Improved legal outcomes — the least-known facet of our Value Champions initiative, but every bit as important (sort of like how the federal judiciary is not some appendage to its political brethren, a fact the Supreme Court reminds us of every so often). Simply put, value isn’t just money. It’s making sure the business gets, or keeps, what it needs to function, to serve its customers and its other stakeholders, and to comply with the law. Lawyers, inside and outside, are the most important part of that equation, and none of us need a reminder that continuous innovation is a key ingredient.

So, there you have it. If you’ve done something of which you’re justifiably proud, please submit your nomination here. If you haven’t, please study up and come back next year for the third part of the series.

And, in case you’re wondering, even though yelling “Khaan” is probably the fastest way to my heart, “The Empire Strikes Back” is the best sequel ever, though I’ve never quite understood the ending.