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Depict and analyze legal services graphically by value, volume, and provider

At the Corporate Legal Times 2003 Super Conference, June 12-13, 2003, Craig Glidden, the General Counsel of Chevron Phillips Chemical Company (CPCC), displayed a fascinating slide. The left, vertical axis shows low value-added services up to high value-added services. The bottom axis moves from “specialty work” on the left over to high volume “commodity work” on the right. The right vertical axis has low-cost service providers on the bottom up through “partnering” to “outside counsel specialists.”

The CPCC law department inventoried all its work done inside and outside and categorized it based on the graphic’s scales of value and cost. Even better, they estimated the time they spent on the various combinations. Those services in the upper left of the graph, the high-value specialized work, amounted to an estimated two to four percent of the services. This included antitrust and securities litigation, complex commercial litigation, IP litigation and a few others services.

Moving down the curve to intermediate value and intermediate volume, the so called “experience matters” accounted for 35 to 40 percent of the department’s work. In that category were complex contracts, environmental issues, and some specialty work like international contracts.

The remaining 55 to 60 percent of services were deemed “routine matters” such as standard contracts and repetitive issues. These fell in the low-value, commodity work portion of the slide where they could be handled by low-cost service providers.

This construct is a useful methodology and depiction for any law department or practice group within a law department. Of most interest to me is the approximate division of all the department’s legal work among the various services.