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The current, volatile macro-economic environment creates significant challenges for all businesses. Many will inevitably look to reduce cost, a step which will affect most functions, including in-house law departments. However, unless properly addressed, such a step could endanger the organization's ability to innovate and manage risk, in an environment which brings both greater opportunity and more legal and regulatory constraint than ever before. Instead of simply cutting headcount, General Counsel should take a more nuanced approach to evaluating the design of the in-house law department, with a focus on tangible value and an understanding of the key business drivers of legal demand.

  • Evaluating The Existing Design Of Your In-House Law Department


    Our evaluation of your in-house law department design starts with a current-state map, and comprises a review of several key data points, including:

    • The number of internal lawyers (relative to the size of the business / division / by revenue).
    • The number of layers and spans of control within the department.
    • The ratio of legal staff to other staff (by division / function).
    • Seniority per layer within the department.
    • The output of support roles and ratio of support roles to internal lawyers.
    • The use of, and relationships with, external counsel and Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs).

    Once the mix of variables has been determined, we collect data to analyze the composition of today's in-house law department.

  • What Is Our Solution?


    A well-designed in-house law department will help the wider business in driving significant value and preventing risks. Through our integrated collaboration event, called Shearman Acceler8, we help you reach design decisions in days that would normally take months.

    Our approach tackles key design considerations that are on the minds of law department leaders:

    1. How many people do we need to run the in-house law department?
    2. Do we have the right resource coverage, including sufficient seniority, expertise, and cultural fit?
    3. How could greater use of existing resources and technology enable us to do more with less?
    4. How best to use external counsel and other external vendors?
    5. What are the implications of reducing internal headcount / external spend?
    6. How can we best manage the needs of a growing and changing business and law department?

How Do We Do This?

Our methodology is carried out through several sequential steps, to help you in determining the optimum design of your in-house law department.

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    Determine the optimum mix of channels to satisfy legal needs

    • Review the nature of the demands on the law department from the business and senior management, including complexity, frequency, risk, and location attributes.
    • Re-evaluate the extent to which the historic design is fit-for-purpose for the medium term.
    • Assess the nature of legal support: hub vs local mix.
    • Determine how delivery can be further optimized to meet your business and risk management needs.
    • Identify additional opportunities to improve legal support through changes to processes and technology.
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    Review the current design

    • We then work with you to review the composition of today's in-house law department.
    • Our analysis will include a review of headcount, spans and layers, subject matter alignment, the output of support roles, interface protocols with the business and other contextual considerations.
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    Determine future design needs

    • We then consider the future role of the law department, based on the business trajectory, strategy, optimum delivery channels and key considerations such as scope, risk, value, and cost.
    • We work closely with you to determine a set of options, including the pros and cons of distinct delivery models for different teams and geographies.
  • Chart

    Develop a time-based roadmap and plan

    • Our final output will be in the form of an executive summary report, including a roadmap and plan to support effective implementation.
    • The report will include prioritized recommendations to help achieve the desired future design.

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