A throwaway line for general counsel who want to demonstrate their striving to reduce legal costs is “We’re going to bring more work inside” (See my post of Aug. 4, 2008: BAE Systems.). The intention really boils down to “We’re going to remove work from law firms.”
A general counsel can hire another lawyer, given the prospect of enough work that an additional in-house attorney can take on, and the substitution brings work in and saves money (See my post of Feb. 4, 2007: around $450,000 of projected spend on outside counsel justifies new hire.). But adding headcount is far from the only choice to “bring more work inside.”
A general counsel who takes such a shift seriously could choose to offshore some of that work, deploy software and databases more productively, raise productivity with knowledge management tools, encourage delegation to non-lawyers, turn work back to clients in a self-service model, or stop doing some work that is not a core competency.
This blog has metaposts on categories on each choice (See my post of June 25, 2008: offshore with 27 references; Feb. 9, 2008: law-department software with 59 references; Aug. 28, 2008: knowledge management and work product with 10 references; Aug. 28, 2008: delegation within a law department with 14 references; May 18, 2008: self-service by clients with 7 references; April 9, 2008: quasi-legal tasks with 14 references; and May 23, 2008: core competencies with 12 references.).