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Ten upsides of the recession for law departments

Having previously depressed everyone with eight downsides, I sanguinely offer ten advantages for general counsel that they might seize as a result of the economic downturn (See my post of Feb. 5, 2009: 8 downsides.).

  1. Use the corporate pressure on you to try new law firms and scrape away at the encrusted incumbent firms (See my post of Dec. 17, 2007: challenges newcomers face compared to incumbents.).

  2. Demand deeper discounts, fixed fees for phases, holdbacks or other cost concessions (See my post of Jan. 21, 2008: 10 more posts with variations on discounts; and March 1, 2008: fixed or flat fees with 36 references.). Several posts refer to holdbacks (See my post of Sept. 10, 2005: holdback payment based on client satisfaction scores; Feb. 16, 2006: reasons not to hold back amounts; Feb. 20, 2007: competitive bids and hold-backs; Aug. 4, 2007: holdbacks with bonus terms; Nov. 6, 2007: time constraints to negotiate; Sept. 18, 2007: a form of alternative fee arrangement; and Dec. 17, 2007: competitive bids.).

  3. Competitively bid an anticipated group of matters (See my post of Aug. 15, 2008: competitive bids with 35 references.).

  4. Exorcise from your department’s workload some quasi-legal services (See my post of April 9, 2008: quasi-legal tasks with 14 references.).

  5. Apply some moments of down-time to developing knowledge management tools such as template agreements, guidelines or checklists.

  6. Use capacity to streamline some processes, perhaps with Six Sigma methods (See my post of Feb. 13, 2008: Six Sigma with 18 references.).

  7. Scrutinize the core competencies that you ought to specialize in and match your talent to those areas (See my post of May 23, 2008: core competence with 12 references.). Click here for my article, “Journey to the Center of Work” (Legal Times, July 21, 2008)

  8. Squeeze vendors for much more favorable terms on maintenance, customization, support services, and add-on modules

  9. Catch up on your CLE (PDE) and even get ahead a bit (See my post of Dec. 17, 2007: continuing professional development with 4 references.).

  10. Correct internal inequities in compensation, including from the standpoint of purchase power parity (See my post of Oct. 10, 2005: purchase power parity and global compensation costs; and April 22, 2007: purchase power parity and some possible glitches.). Offer under-performing staff an opportunity to blossom elsewhere; expand the responsibilities of those who remain in a way that addresses grumblings about “no career path.”

  11. Benefit from the brilliance of consultants (just kidding).

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