Just in case you need more evidence, two articles published in Corporate Counsel last week described the ever increasing responsibilities of legal departments as they grow into their role of strategic partner with their business.
The first article, 10 Ways GCs Can Cut the Cost of Contract Management, argues that contract management responsibility is best handled not by procurement but by the legal department. The two reasons cited are that: 1) general counsel are the natural adjudicator of how much risk can be tolerated while still allowing business to operate effectively; and, 2) legal departments are often the driving force behind the purchase and use of document management systems which are necessary to manage contracting processes. The article goes on to list 10 ways that corporate counsel can increase effectiveness of contract management.
The second article, Unbundling Outside Counsel Transactional Legal Services, suggests that the legal department become a better business partner by unbundling legal services provided by outside counsel. Unbundled legal services are defined as when the deliverables for a specific legal matter are broken down into separate component parts. Corporate counsel determines which parts are assigned to company’s outside counsel, which parts are handled in house and which are assigned to third parties. In making these assignments, corporate counsel determines how to best optimize legal spend with the best outcome for the business, thereby strengthening the legal department’s position as a strategic business partner
As some areas of responsibility are added to the legal team while others are being restructured, general counsel must also ensure that new measurements of success are tracked and reported on. While changes such as the ones mentioned above are exciting and could mean increased safety for your company and power for your department, it is vital to prove that these changes were beneficial and necessary. Are these developments-and the risk that comes with them- a growing area of concern for your department, or a welcome and necessary advancement?