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Actions a general counsel can take once she spots a block of commodity services

Estimates have put the percentage of commodity work handled by legal departments as high as a third of all they do. Whatever the proportion, where general counsel identify blocks of relatively routine work, they can choose from a set of actions how best to handle the services.

  1. Standardize processes and create aids, such as process maps, benchmarks, templates, and training tools.

  2. Invest in software that streamlines the commodity work, such as document assembly, intranet guides, precedent banks, and macros.

  3. Assign different levels of talent to take on the tasks, such as project managers, paralegals, secondees, or contract staff.

  4. Help clients absorb more of the work on their own (See my post of May 18, 2008: self-service with 7 references.).

  5. Gather and analyze productivity and cost metrics, perhaps with disciplines such as Six Sigma and TQM.

  6. Make arrangements with outside counsel to handle the work on a fixed fee.

  7. Turn to offshore vendors and other unbundled service providers can take on tasks.

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