As the legal operations landscape grows more complex, corporate legal departments are increasingly turning to law firms for additional expertise and services. Putting a comprehensive vendor management process in place is critical to legal departments forging strong and collaborative relationships with law firms. In fact, the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) has made vendor management one of its 12 Core Competencies.
With legal departments increasingly driving toward improved vendor collaboration, we at Wolters Kluwer regularly work with legal professionals to help strengthen their vendor relationships and ensure they are on the right track.
Given the importance of law firms to the legal department’s success, we wanted to offer a tool that would help legal operations professionals to assess the status of their vendor management programs and identify opportunities for improvement. This was the focus of a workshop we presented at last week’s 2018 CLOC Institute in Las Vegas.
Matt Kivlin and David Sankar, Senior Product Directors on my team at Wolters Kluwer’s ELM Solutions, kicked off the interactive workshop by introducing the vendor management discipline and sharing our best practice recommendations in each of four areas:
Make sure you capture key metrics to help you evaluate vendor results and quality, adherence to budgets, and compliance with guidelines - and share this information with law firms. They appreciate transparency as it helps them align to the needs of their clients and ensure everyone is working toward the same goals.
Financial and Rate Management
It is critical that legal departments create a budget for each matter type, negotiating rates with law firms based on historical rate data and recent trends. ELM Solutions’ LegalVIEW®, the world’s largest source of performance data, enables legal departments to use data and insights to enhance visibility into legal spend and matter costs and better evaluate the value of outside counsel. This leads to not only efficiency and cost savings but also the ability to select the most effective law firm to handle each matter.
At ELM Solutions, we encourage our clients to review invoices in a timely manner, ideally within a 72-hour window against their billing guidelines. Doing so allows the legal department to quickly address non-compliance issues with law firms early on and help avoid future problems.
Law Firm & Alternate Provider Management
We recommend developing a report card that includes both quantitative and qualitative metrics to reflect vendor performance. This will provide the tools you need to make the most informed decisions about where to assign work to maximize efficiency, minimize spend, and optimize outcomes.
As a service provider to the industry, we have gathered best practices and share them frequently with our clients, but we recognize that the greatest value in these sessions is often facilitating a conversation among professionals and providing a networking opportunity. Matt and David therefore asked the attendees to discuss their challenges as well as their own approaches in each of these four areas. Participants were able to gain real life feedback and advice from other legal operations specialists who are facing many of the same obstacles.
After the session, many attendees stayed at their tables and continued the conversation, trading business cards and contact information. This exemplifies the greatest value of the CLOC conference – the opportunity for legal operations professionals to learn from service providers as well as their peers.