Out of 14 options to choose from, the respondents to a recent survey of law departments (by Mahlab Recruitment and Harris Cost Lawyers) of members of the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association ranked as the top four options, in order, “reducing outside legal costs” and “staying appraised of company activities.” These two were 50 percent more commonly chosen than the next two, which were “too much work, too little resources/legal budget issues” and “demonstration of value” (at 13).
My belief is that the fourth-ranked issue — how to show that the law department delivers value to the company — ought to be the most pressing issue. Cost control has limits as to how much it can benefit a company (“You can’t shrink your way to greatness!”) and to keep up with company activities is merely a means to an end. The third issue is a legitimate concern, having to do with resources and workload, but it should be addressed by proper management. People and money still comes down to providing value. Even with an ample supply of both, the test for a law department is whether it helps the company succeed.